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Friday, July 19, 2024

USAID MISSION DIRECTOR MONITORS IMPACT OF DONATED MEDICINES IN ZORZOR

Date:

LIBERIA – USAID Mission Director Jim Wright visited the Lutheran Curran Hospital in Zorzor, Lofa County, on Saturday, June 22, 2024, to observe how the hospital utilizes USAID-donated medicines. In addition to monitoring the donated medicines, Mission Director Wright participated in a panel discussion with health practitioners, including Curran Hospital’s Acting Chief Medical Staff, Dr. Debleh O.N. Sumo, highlighting the impact of the monitoring and awareness of donated medicines on public health facilities in Lofa County.

The campaign, a significant initiative that began in November 2023, directly responds to the mismanagement and theft of life-saving medicines worth millions of dollars donated by the United States and its partners.  The medicines, including Malaria, HIV, Tuberculosis, and Family Planning, are free and should not be sold. Still, most patients complain that they often pay for malaria and other health commodities at public health facilities. Due to fraud and mismanagement, most medications do not reach those needing them and are often sold, stolen, or unaccounted for and sometimes expire.

Mission Director Wright said it is disheartening that hospitals and health facilities continue to experience consistent stockout of malaria and other donated medications. At the same time, private pharmacies are fully stocked with donated medicines. However, MD Wright said the monitoring and awareness campaign is making some inroads because citizens hear radio messages that the medications are free while health facilities are learning how to improve the accountability and transparency of donated medicines.

Dr. Peter Wreh, a pharmacist in Lofa County, asserted that the USAID-donated medicines boost Liberia’s health care system, especially in rural areas. Nevertheless, he named the lack of transportation and other logistics to support the last-mile distribution of free pharmaceutical commodities as the major challenge. Additionally, Dr. Wreh indicated that the reporting and record management have improved due to CSA monitoring and there was sufficient availability of the majority of Malaria, HIV and Family medicines due to the frequent distribution in 2024.

The Health Coalition monitors the supply chain for donated medicines quarterly in the six USAIDfocused counties: Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong, Nimba, and Lofa. Coalition members are raising awareness about the supply chain management system, educating citizens on talk shows, via jingles, and engaging citizens and health stakeholders that medications are free and not for sale.

Since the monitoring exercise and awareness began, the USAID Liberia funded Civil Society Activity (CSA) project-led health coalition has identified numerous challenges facing the supply chain management system. Some problems include limited staffing to manage the medicines, medicines being stuck at the county depot and not reaching the service delivery points, and in many health facilities, there are dispensers who are volunteers and demotivated.

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