The recently launched free health care programme for under five children, pregnant and lactating mothers by President Koroma has faced serious set back in providing the much needed drugs for patients across the country.
According to Awoko investigations most of the government managed hospitals and clinics do not seem capable of handling the high number of patients that report daily.
There have been reported increases of patients at major hospitals and clinics around the country but sadly most of the hospitals do not seem to have the basic logistics and manpower while others are complaining of lack of water, electricity, blood bank and X-ray machines.
The District Medical Officer Alimamy P. Koroma of the Bo Government Hospital has said that lack of electricity at the hospital is causing serious setback for the free health care programme in Sierra Leone.
He stated “we cannot perform surgeries and other health care deliveries because there is no light” adding that the hospital management is currently negotiating with the Council for the running of the only available generator at the hospital.
It was observed at some of the clinics and hospitals visited that hundreds of patients are reporting for treatment but only a few are getting the required the drugs while others are exploiting the situation to deprive others.
According to sources in other parts of the country most of the hospitals and clinics under rehabilitation are yet to be completed, though drugs have been supplied but most of the medical stores lack air conditioners, cold rooms and refrigerators.
The Government and development partners have constructed few maternity complexes in some parts of the country while many others are without. 1, 800 women in Sierra Leone die for every 100,000 births and many could have lived if they had been able to pay to give birth in a maternity unit.
It is obvious that if health care is free even to a limited number of people the clinics and hospitals could be overwhelmed. User fees are a way of rationing when you don’t have enough drugs, let alone nurses and doctors, to go round. The lives of thousands of women and small children are at stake.
DfID has given $8.8 million for new drugs, as well as other help. Weekly meetings have brought together government and donors and aid agencies so that everybody has been involved and are performing their own specific tasks. By Saidu Bah