Liberia: LIPRIDE, Actionaid Launch Social Audit Finings To Determine Access To Healthcare services for key and vulnerable populations

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By: Necus M. Andrews

The Liberia Initiative for the Promotion of Rights, Identity Diversity and Equality (LIPRIDE) in partnership with Actionaid-Liberia through support from the FORUMSYD project has launched the 2018 Social Audit Survey report, highlighting access to justice and health services for key populations, marginalized and vulnerable groups.

The survey was conducted in four counties, including Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Bong, partnering with the Liberian government through the ministries of Health, Justice, Gender and Youth and Sports.

Presenting the findings at a stakeholders gathering in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County at the launch of the report on September 24, 2021, LIPRIDE Board Chairman, Evans L. Adofo said the Social Audit survey investigated the level of access key population, marginalized and discriminated groups have regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as human rights and justice in the counties.

Mr. Adofo told the gathering that the survey was intended to better understand issues these key population and vulnerable groups face, to inform relevant institutions how to make the required  intervention for improved healthcare service delivery.

  Mr. Evans L. Adofo, LIPRIDE Board Chairman

“Due to cultural, diversity and sensitivity, the social audit used several methods to ensure that data collected reflected respondents’ views. The audit employs a unique methodology to ensure effective data collection to identify gaps around sexual and reproductive health and rights, with emphasis on key population and vulnerable groups in the counties,” Mr. Adofo said.

Pinpointing some of the key issues identified Mr. Adofo said, “The report provides findings from an in-depth survey targeting the total of 252 respondents, disaggregated by counties, with focus on key populations, people living with HIV (PLHIV), Liberia National Police (LNP), the National AIDS Commission (NAC), National AIDS Control Program (NACP) and selected county health facilities in the four counties”.

Regarding human rights (access to justice), Evans disclosed that 51.9% of the respondents mostly key and vulnerable populations said, police are partial in dispensing justice, while 72.8%  reported that unfavorable treatment was meted against them, putting them at higher risk.

“Even though there has been a lot of work previously done to increase access to quality healthcare service delivery, it seems a lot still need to be done. Human rights and access to justice at the community level remain significantly challenging and all health partners need to quickly rally all the supports to maintain the gains made,” Mr. Adofo quoted recommendations in the report as urging policy makers and key actors.”

According to him, in order to improve access to quality health care service delivery, sexual and reproductive health and rights, human rights and access to justice, the development and enactment of non-discriminatory laws that protect all including key and vulnerable populations is critically needed.

In remarks, Actionaid-Liberia Senior Program Manager, Joseph Madzvamuse said access to justice and healthcare services are fundamental in the attainment of human rights protection in any country.

Mr. Madzvamuse said Actionaid-Liberia as a human rights promoting organization, is committed to supporting LIPRIDE Coalition with support from FORUMSYD to keep policymakers, civil society organizations and relevant stakeholders engaged in creating the needed enabling environment that accommodates all citizens void of perceived or real societal stigma, discrimination and injustice.

Mr. Joseph Madzvamuse, Actionaid-Liberia Senior Program Manager presenting the report representatives of government institutions

“We are pleased to be collaborating with LIPRIDE Coalition and other civil society organizations with support from our partner to keep the conversation around human protection going. This is an ongoing process which we are committed to. Protecting Human rights is the surest way for a peaceful society,” Mr. Madzvamuse said.

According to him, the outcome of the social audit report indicates that there are issues that require collective effort to address, which is by extension buttressing the Government of Liberia effort to design workable approach, best practices and procedures that will improve the health and justice systems for marginalized groups to access equal services.

Mr. Janja Jones, Deputy Program Manager for Monitoring and Evaluation (Research) at the National AIDS Control Program (NACP), said access to healthcare services for key and venerable has long been the direction of NACP, because it is the foundation for ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Considering the fact that key and vulnerable populations are at high risk for HIV and other STIs, their inclusion in service delivery is important, and must not be overlooked.

“We have been involved in including key and vulnerable populations in our holistic service delivery strategy long before the launch of this report, we are committed. There is no way we will succeed in ending AIDS if these groups are left behind,” Mr. Jones said.

Mr. Kutaka Divine Togba, Director for the Division of Human Rights Protection at the Ministry of Justice, said the Liberian government remains committed to providing protection for all of its citizens regardless of who they are.

Mr. Togba said government’s commitment is evident by its continuous engagement with civil society actors in Liberia including LIPRIDE, to discuss how the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on human rights protection can be addressed collectively.

“Ensuring human rights protection is a collective effort, the launch of this report demonstrates that evidence. You can see that the report has revealed a lot of issues regarding human rights, and at the sometime   recommending that all of us should work to address. We are committed to this process; thanks to LIPRIDE and Actionaid for always engaging us” Mr. Togba indicated

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