Liberia Country Capacity Assessment
Assistive technology (AT) such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, spectacles, prostheses, etc. help to maintain or improve a person’s functioning and independence. Persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the aging population make up a significant portion of those who require AT to support them in living healthy, productive, and independent lives. Without AT, PWDs as an already vulnerable population could further suffer from isolation, marginalization, and poverty.
According to the last population census conducted (post-war, 2008), Liberia has a disability prevalence of 3.17%. Of the disabled population, the majority experience visual impairments (34%), followed by mobility impairments (25%), hearing impairments (11%), communication impairments (4%), and cognitive impairments (4%). However, these figures are widely regarded to be a significant underestimation of disabilities in Liberia, considering that nearly one-third of the population fought in the civil wars, with countless more being impacted. Currently, Liberia has a population of 4.9 million people, and recent estimates show that the prevalence of non-communicable diseases and injuries (NCDIs) are on the rise, which will also lead to an increase in persons who require AT. Access to AT is particularly a challenge in low income countries, where absence of policies and service delivery guidance, lack of financial & human resources, limited user and provider awareness, and fragmented coordination among stakeholders hamper the delivery of quality and appropriate AT services. In order to identify barriers to AT availability and access, and to devise tailored and effective solutions to facilitate greater and equitable access to AT, a country-specific understanding of the context, structures, and enabling environment for AT is essential.
To that end, the Global Disability Innovation Hub contracted the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to conduct an Assistive Technology Country Capacity Assessment in Liberia to understand the country’s current systems capacity to provide AT. The findings are intended to increase awareness and knowledge of AT among partners; and to identify gaps that would benefit from increased and coordinated investments. A mix of desk literature review and stakeholder interviews were used to collect quantitative and qualitative information, guided by the World Health Organization’s AT Assessment-Capacity (ATA-C) Tool. Relevant stakeholders across government ministries and agencies, civil society organizations, non-government organizations and UN agencies, disabled people’s organizations (DPOs), public and private health/rehabilitation facilities were interviewed. Following data collection, a consultative stakeholder workshop was held to share and validate the findings, as well as develop and build consensus on recommendations to accelerate AT access in Liberia. This assessment collated and analyzed its findings across the domains of stakeholder landscape, policy & financing, product & procurement, human resources, AT provision, and data & information systems.
Key findings and recommendations can be found within this assessment report.