Executive Order 56 Scares Lawmaker

first_imgAs reactions to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s recent annual message on the affairs of the state continue to emerge, Nimba County District #8 lawmaker Larry P. Younquoi has expressed fear that the President’s silence on the rubber industry may leave ordinary Liberians out of jobs.Expressing the concern in an interview with the Daily Observer yesterday at his Capitol Building office in Monrovia, Rep. Younquoi said thousands of Liberians depend on the rubber industry for jobs, but the moratorium placed on it under Executive Order #56 has given Firestone the monopoly to determine the price of rubber as the sole buyer.Consequently, said the Nimba lawmaker, the price of the commodity has dropped leaving farmers and others who could employ underprivileged Liberians without the financial strength to do so.He contends that President William R. Tolbert, Jr. during his regime, created the Liberia Rubber Development Unit by statute, and National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) Chairman, Gyude Bryant by an act of the Legislature created the Liberia Rubber Development Authority (LRDA) by statute.According to Rep. Younquoi, it is incoherent for an agency created by statute to be placed under a moratorium by an executive order, giving one company the monopoly to do rubber business in the absence of competition.He said the President would have done better by strengthening the existing institution in this environment where legislature exists instead of issuing Executive Order #56, which gets the Rubber Brokers Union out of business and leaves Firestone with the monopoly to purchase.Rep. Younquoi also recalled that in 2004 there was an LRDA act making the Rubber Planters Association of Liberia (RPAL) ineffective, but the RPAL is still operating and collecting US$2.50 from farmers.He disclosed that his complaints are currently on the desk of the House Speaker, and there is a need to discuss them in order to strengthen the LRDA.He said unemployment has the propensity to cause confusion in a country, adding that with the prevailing conditions in the rubber sector, government needs to discuss the problems in order to bring some “serenity” to the rubber sector.The lawmaker reiterated that as a result of the Executive Order, those who once competed in buying rubber are no longer doing so, making references to Weala and other groups that have become dormant because of the moratorium.Rep. Younquoi further argued that monopoly given Firestone under the Executive Order #56 will allow the American company to under declare its revenue which will consequently lead to under declaring taxes due to government.He said setting an independent regulatory body and allowing competition in purchasing the commodity will allow more revenues to be generated for the government.On the question of whether the lawmaker’s plea is meant for protection of his rubber farm, he rejected the idea that he was advocating in his own interest as a rubber farmer.Rep. Younquoi disclosed that his rubber does not reach production stage until seven years. Rather, he is seeking the interest of the Liberian people, for which he claims he has received awards from many citizen groups.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

The Urgent Need for a National Electronic Health (National eHealth) Strategy for Liberia. A…

first_imgLast week I was part of a four-man delegation that attended the West Africa Regional Workshop on the Development of National eHealth Strategy in Abuja, Nigeria. The workshop was hosted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the World Health Organization (WHO), ICT4Health Nigeria, and the Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria. It (the workshop) provided participating West African countries insight into the development and implementation of a National eHealth strategy. It also allowed the Liberian delegation to network with technicians (both from the ICT and Health sectors) from other West African countries and provided an opportunity for it (the delegation) to understand the successes, challenges and failures with regards to the use of ICT in delivery of healthcare in other West African countries. In today’s article, I provide insight into what eHealth is, what an eHealth Strategy is as well as its impact on Liberia, and the compendium of stakeholders who will drive and lead the development and implementation of a comprehensive and robust eHealth strategy in Liberia. The Ebola outbreak which began sometime in late 2014 exposed a lot of weaknesses in the health sector of West African Countries that were affected as well as those that were not affected. In Ebola infected countries (Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone), one of the weaknesses that led to the initial dysfunctional response toward the Ebola outbreak is the lack of a comprehensive eHealth strategy. This problem does not only exist in Ebola infected countries, but also in several other West African countries. The lack of an eHealth strategy and policy strangulates (and will continue to strangulate) efforts by governments (West African countries and other developing countries), development partners, service providers, and communities to efficiently and effectively deliver or aid in the delivery of healthcare services to citizens and residents. As a result of this, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and other stakeholders concerned with the delivery of healthcare through ICTs, have taken the initiative to build the capacity of West African countries and all other countries in the development and implementation of their respective countries’ eHealth strategy. Thus, the West African National eHealth Strategy workshop that was held in Abuja, Nigeria on April 26-27, 2016. Now, what exactly is eHealth? Before I provide insight on what an eHealth strategy is, let me first define eHealth using the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition: eHealth is “the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for health to, for example, treat patients, pursue research, and educate students, track diseases and monitor public health.” This definition covers a vast domain which includes the following: Electronic Health Records, Routine health management information (e.g. web-based surveillance systems, electronic disease registers, electronic district health information systems), Vital Registration (the use of computerized systems for registration of death or births), Health Knowledge Management (e.g. best practice guidelines managed and accessed electronically), mHealth (e.g. use of mobile devices such as cell-phones to share information or to collect aggregate or patient data), Telemedicine (e.g. use of ICTs to provide care at a distance), Virtual Healthcare (e.g. teams of professionals working together via ICTs), and Health Research (e.g. use of high performance computing to handle large volumes of data).Based on the definition of eHealth, how can we define an eHealth strategy? A strategy by definition is a plan of action designed to achieve a major aim. Hence, a national e-health Strategy provides a framework and plan for national coordination and collaboration of various stakeholders to deliver quality healthcare services through the use of ICT. An eHealth strategy takes into consideration and/or leverages the existing healthcare and ICT landscape and ecosystem, manages the underlying variation in capacity across the health sector nationally, and allows scope for change as lessons are learned and technology is developed further. An eHealth strategy must be comprehensive, pragmatic and innovative. It must define eHealth as a broad domain which I mentioned above (Health Records, Vital Stats, mHealth, telemedicine etc.) to promote, support and strengthen healthcare.Liberia’s health information landscape is currently characterized by islands of information, many of which are paper based. And where automation exists, there is often a lack of interoperability between disparate systems. This has created significant barriers to the effective sharing of information between healthcare participants to support accessible, safe, quality healthcare, an issue compounded by Liberia’s multiple health service boundaries and geographic distances. Hence, a robust eHealth program plays a pivotal role in evolving the way in which healthcare is delivered in Liberia, empowering both citizens and professionals through better digital services and information. This will directly improve the outcomes of professional care, and at the same time provide essential support for effective self-care and health improvement by people in Liberia.The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications are expected drive and lead the development of Liberia’s eHealth Strategy in collaboration with other stakeholders. The development of the strategy will involve a series of national consultations with various stakeholders including general practitioners, medical specialists, nursing and allied health, pathology, radiology and pharmacy sectors, health information specialists, health service managers, researchers, academics and consumers. The input of a diverse group of stakeholders will be critical to informing the strategy and its priorities for eHealth in Liberia over a given period. Response to the Liberian eHealth Strategy will be coordinated through Steering committees or a Presidium and Technical Working Groups. Specific decisions about the next steps will occur in consultation with the strategic stakeholders. To ensure the best results there will be a need for ongoing communication and consultation with all stakeholders including Liberian public about a work plan to deliver on future decisions. Finally, effective monitoring of healthcare service delivery and overall performance of healthcare systems require functional health information systems capable of producing real-time information for decision making. This real-time information is driven by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which has emerged globally, as a critical enabling mechanism in all sectors. Therefore, the amalgam of healthcare (e.g. health information management systems) and ICT guided by a robust eHealth Strategy for Liberia will usher in a new era of optimism about the capabilities of our healthcare ecosystem. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more