By Clifford Kamara

I am wrapping up my week long visit to Liberia. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare here is decentralizing, and this entails strengthening planning and budgeting in the country’s 15 counties, as well as allocation of funds to the County Health and Social Welfare Teams.  In addition, some counties have locally generated revenues which might be available for meeting recurrent health expenditures. In line with this, my ministry of health counterparts and I have been consulting with the external partners (WHO, UNICEF, USAID) to formulate a decentralized advocacy strategy for immunization and other key phc programs.  At this point, we are thinking it would be most cost effective to combine this advocacy orientation with other supervisory and training inputs. After all, everyone here has to become an advocate if we are to make the sustainable immunization financing goal! By preparing  the County Health and Social Welfare Teams to become advocates for health financing, we expect that relevant decision-makers at county level will respond positively, for example, by reporting more timely information on budget execution, preparing budgets based on actual expenditures, and exploring additional local sources of financing for immunization and other key PHC programs. We expect that this improved budget execution and oversight at county level will convince national decision makers to seriously consider increasing the national health budget in 2011. We have been able to get budgetary increases this year in neighboring Sierra Leone, so why not here, too?Please visit our blog again next week for another story from ‘Reflections from the Field’.  If there is a particular SIF country you would like to learn more about, please let us know by leaving a comment on any of our stories.