According to a coalition of civil society organizations (CSOS) and women’s rights organizations, Liberia is at a watershed moment in terms of addressing and improving healthcare access for all Liberian women and girls. Amplifying Rights Network, partners, and women’s rights organizations and activists make up the group.
According to the group, the amended public healthcare law will be able to assist the improvement of every Liberian’s life, defend their right to select and make informed decisions about their healthcare and provide access to quality and gender response delivery.
In a recent position statement, the group stated that the new Public Health Law has several benefits, including improved protection for the people of Liberia.
“The revised law will guide service providers in service deliveries and against discrimination; it will prohibit street selling of drugs including fake, expired, and unsafe medications; it will protect mentally ill people, regulate the sale and marketing of tobacco and breast milk substitute products.”
The statement further quoted the group as saying: “The revised law will also provide guidelines for the control and prevention of epidemics and diseases, improve access to safe abortion and post-abortion care, regulate traditional medicines, and provide coordinating mechanisms between the communities and the health authorities in all counties.”
Liberia currently has the 7th highest rate of maternal mortality in the world and the 3rd in Africa with many women and girls dying from giving birth and related health complications.
Liberia also has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy with 30% of girls and young Liberian women, aged 15 -19, are already mothers and or pregnant with their first child. This means of every 3 girls, 2 become mothers by the age 19th! Liberia has also a high rate of sexual and gender-based violence.
According to the group, in 2019, two out of every three rape cases are minors. In addition, limited access to comprehensive sexual health education and sexual health and reproductive services and commodities including lack of access to safe abortion and post-abortion care have resulted in women and girls dying.
Between 2017 and 2018, statistics show that over 8,700 abortion cases were reported at health facilities in Liberia, and in 2021 over 2,600. These abortion cases were carried out in the least- safe and most dangerous conditions with 10% ending in deaths of young women and girls.
“Daily, hundreds of women, desperately take matters into their own hands, seeking services from backstreet abortion service providers; some use self-induced procedures to terminate their pregnancies, and this includes women and girls of all ages, professions, and socio-economic status,” the statement noted.