Health System and EPI Program
Liberia’s National Health Policy and Plan 2007‐2011 identifies immunization as one of the key programs in the essential child health package. Liberia launched its Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) in 1978. The Program is located in the Preventive Services Division, Health Services Department, Ministry of Health & Social Welfare. A National EPI Manager and the network of Country Health Officers oversee and coordinate all EPI‐related activities. Immunizations are delivered through 5 Regions, 15 Counties, 88 districts and 457 health centers and clinics. Private and NGO providers deliver up to half of all immunizations.
Over the period 2006-2011, Gross National Income (GNI) in Liberia increased from $140 to $240 per capita. According to the WHO/UNICEF-Joint Reporting Form (JRF) Database, Liberia reported its government expenditures on routine immunization for 2006-2008.
Within these three years, reported values were $100,000, $66,000 and $217,125, respectively. The government expenditures reported for 2006-2007 are below $1 per infant. In 2009, this value increases to $1.60 per infant as a result of an added $151,125 to government contributions.
Liberia is a presidential representative democratic republic modeled on the government of the United States, whereby the president is the head of state and head of government. Unlike the United States, Liberia is a unitary state as opposed to a federation and has a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the legislature. Liberia is still a country in transition. Liberia's government is based on the American model of a republic with three equal branches of government, though in reality the president of Liberia has usually been the dominant force in politics.
Liberia has a bicameral legislature. The House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the bicameral legislative branch of Liberia, and together with the Senate comprises the Legislature of Liberia. The number of seats is fixed by law at 73, with each county being apportioned a number of seats based on its percentage of the national population. House members represent single-member districts within the counties drawn up by the National Elections Commission and serve six-year terms. The Senate is the upper house. Each of the 15 counties are equally represented by two senators, elected to serve staggered nine-year terms. There are 64 members of the House of Representatives and 30 senators in their current composition. House committees directly concerned with EPI financing include Committee on Health & Social Welfare, Committee on Ways, Means, and Finance and Committee on Public Accounts and Expenditures. Senate committees include Ways, Means, Finance & Budget Committee and the Committee on Gender, Health, Social Welfare and Women & Children Affairs.
In Chapter II, Article 8 of the 1984 Liberian Constitution, guaranteeing a healthy citizenry is one of the essential government policy goals.
The National Public Health Act (Title 33), written in 1976, is currently being updated. An act to create a drug regulatory authority and regulate the pharmaceutical sector (including vaccines) in Liberia is currently under preparation. A new bill on vaccines and vaccination activities has been drafted by the Standing Committee on Health and Social Welfare.
Showcasing Liberia's Progress in 2013
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- April 2012: SIF peer exchanger Hon. Peter Sonpon Coleman, Senator, Grand Kru County and Chairman, Health, Gender Development, Women and Children Committee, attended Nigeria's Vaccine Summit, 16-17 April 2012, in Abuja.
- June 2012: Two colleagues from Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Budget Officer Reuben Harris and EPI Logistician Tommy Bob Faulkner, participated in the WHO/ Sabin/ UNICEF cMYP workshop in Grand Bassam, Cote d’Ivoire. February 2012: SIF Senior Program Officer Clifford Kamara visited Monrovia to consult counterparts, follow up on draft vaccine-related legislation and arrange a second Congressional briefing.
- June 2012: Peer exchangers from the Liberian Parliament and the Ministry of Health attended a legislative briefing and workshop organized jointly by the Ugandan Parliament and Sabin to discuss legislative strategies and draft immunization laws for SIF East African countries
- June 2012: Subnational briefing on SIF for Senators and Representatives held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, Liberia.
- June 2012: Co-Chair of the House Standing Committee on Health and Social Welfare, Hon. Johnson Chea, and then Deputy EPI Manager, Augustine Newray, undertook a Peer Exchange visit to Sierra Leone to participate in the SIF briefing of parliamentarians in Freetown.
- March 2013: Liberia organized a parliamentary briefing with the participation of Senators, Representatives, MoHSW and MoF staff, UNICEF, USAID. The briefing was faciliated by SPO Dr. Clifford Kamara and Director Dr. McQuestion.
- March 2013: The Parliamentary Forum on Immunization formally launched.