Supporting Guinea’s post-Ebola Recovery: Health Sector Oversight by Parliament

Bandian Neiba Condé, Health Commission rapporteur.

In Guinea, a country that has some of the lowest health indicators in the world, strengthening the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Health (MOH) is key to improving health outcomes.

USAID’s HFG project is working with the MOH and its partners at the national level to build a more transparent and efficient health system, focusing on governance and institutional strengthening. The goal is not only to improve MOH capacity to provide better health services, but also its ability to better respond to crises such as the 2015 Ebola outbreak.

An important partner in this effort is the Health Commission of the National Assembly. In November 2016, HFG facilitated a series of workshops for members and staff of the Commission to aide them in better understanding the national health budget and its implications for the health system. The workshops have helped Health Commission members and staff to understand and provide critical input on the priorities of the Ministry of Health and its programs. As representatives of the regions and communities most affected by the challenges in the health system, Members of the National Assembly  are an important part of the solution.

Using the skills gained in these workshops, the Health Commission then held budget hearings, during which the  Minister of Health and his senior staff discussed the health component of the national budget with the commission members. As a result of these deliberations, the final budget contained a 2.4% increase in health funding over the Government’s original submission. This level of positive engagement with the MOH is rare in Guinean politics, and was supported by all the parties represented in the Commission. The Honorable Dr. Ben Youssouf Keita, a member of the Commission noted:

“Members of Parliament are not fully equipped in budget analysis – I am a medical doctor. This training initiated by USAID will […] enable us to better fulfill our mission of controlling government actions and passing laws in defense of the interests of the people.

The MOH has committed to regular consultations with the Commission moving forward as it develops future budgets and programs, and HFG has received requests to expand the budget training to all permanent commissions of the National Assembly—recognition of the Parliament’s growing role within the budget cycle.

With continued support from HFG Guinea, the Health Commission is also expanding its efforts to oversee the health system. The Commission is developing an ambitious, year-long plan of monitoring and oversight activities, in Conakry and throughout the country. The plan will include joint activities with local communities and civil society groups to identify and support ways to expand citizen access to health facilities and services.

 

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