Australian Government scholarship helps to improve quality of health care in Liberia

Liberia has taken action to reduce child deaths and improve maternal health by improving its supervision of health facilities staff.

Instrumental in initiating the integrated system is Teta Manita Lincoln. Upon graduating from Sydney University with a Masters in International Public Health through an Australian Government Scholarship in 2011, Teta applied her enhanced skills and knowledge to effect positive change in her home country.

Appointed Quality Assurance Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare on returning to Liberia, Teta immediately faced challenges, including integrating a more effective approach to supervision.

This was an urgent matter, given the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness observed in the system, with health workers failing to attend to patients, resulting in long waiting times for service, coupled with a poor quality of health delivery.

“This was all due to the fact that program officers were constantly in the field at facilities conducting supervision, which left the staff with no time to carry out their normal duties,” says Teta.

Backed by the National Health and Social Welfare Policy and Plan, which prioritises the provision of quality health care for all Liberian people, Teta assembled a team to design and implement a project on integrating supportive supervision.

She consulted and involved all key stakeholders to ensure acceptance at all levels and increase the potential for sustainability and ownership. A training of trainers followed to communicate the Ministry’s new policy. Participants included county supervisors, county health officers and national supervisors. This resulted in the development of a standardised reporting format.

“We are now receiving monthly supervision reports for the first time. Most importantly, the Ministry has been able to save on financial resources and time,” she says.

Teta acknowledges that the Masters program hse studied in Australia built her capacity to deal with the challenges she confronted on returning to Liberia.

Her impressive contributions to development outcomes in her home country will not stop here. She has already started planning the development of quarterly supportive supervision tools for central supervision, thus further expanding on the success of integrated supervision tools.

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