The Emir of Shonga, Kwara State in Nigeria Dr. Alieu Yahara has paid a courtesy call on President Ernest Koroma at his State House Office in Freetown.
Introducing the Emir to President Koroma, the UNFPA Country Director, Barnabas Yissa noted that the Emir is a Medical Doctor by profession and that he has been in the medical field since 1974.
He said that, the Emir has played a pivotal role in the reduction of maternal and child mortality rate and has also advocated for free medical services for those who cannot afford to pay for it.
According to the UNFPA Country Director, the Emir commands the respect of between 15 to 20 million people living within his domain and that due to his advocacy role ,the Nigeria government has deemed it fit to make use of Traditional and Religious Leaders in the fight to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in Nigeria.
Dr. Yahara, he said, has also galvanized colleagues in the fight to eradicate polio in Nigeria and the sub-region.
President Koroma in his response noted that, he was pleased that the Emir found time to come to Sierra Leone to acquaint himself with health issues in the Country.
He said that health issues are of utmost concern to the government, adding that Sierra Leone’s present position at the Human Development Index (HDI) is due to the appalling health conditions in the Country.
The President stressed that the government is taking positive steps, especially in the establishment of the health insurance scheme.
He expressed gratitude that people in the leadership of Nigeria have added their voice in the fight against maternal and child mortality; and promised to use the opportunity to strengthen existing relationship.
The Emir ,Dr. Yahara pointed out that, he was delighted to be invited to Sierra Leone; noting that the strategy to involve Traditional and Religious Leaders in the struggle to reduce maternal mortality would work, as these leaders are au fait with what is happening in their various communities.
He averred that, Nigerians have a lot to learn from Sierra Leone especially on the issue of religious tolerance.
Dr. Yahara disclosed that they have been following events in Sierra Leone ; adding that he is impressed with the reform in the private sector and the fight against corruption.
He said that health problems in Nigeria and Sierra Leone are similar ; and therefore promised to do all within his power to minimize the incidence of maternal and child mortality rate.