The Health Care initiative for all pregnant women, lactating mothers and under five children has been formally launched in Kenema district. The occasion started with a street parade led by Nasir Ahmadiyya Muslim Secondary School and Holy Rosary Secondary School brass bands. The procession included pregnant women, lactating mothers, police, military, councillors, local and international organisations like IRC, Unicef and mothers club, Sierra Leone Red Cross and school children matched from the Gava Forest Industry Canteen ground, through Hangha road, Mission road and Combema road to the under five clinic hall at the government hospital along Combema road in Kenema city. In her statement the chairperson for the ceremony who is also the Acting Mayor for the Kenema City Council Margaret Adama Siaka thanked the government and the donors for the free medical service program and she appealed to all and sundry to do every thing possible in ensuring that the program continues and is successful. She called on beneficiaries not to misuse the facility and to be patient in receiving the services.
Representing the Assistant Inspector General of Police Al-shek Kamara the Regional Crime officer east Superintendent of police Bakarr Mansaray called on all stakeholders in the country to join the police in monitoring the process. He appealed to all whom everything is entrusted in them, to handle everything with the greatest care, adding he will not leave any stone unturned in prosecuting and charge to court anyone who falls short in implementing the process.
The chairperson of the health committee in parliament Madam Bintu Myers expressed her happiness about the whole process as her committee is responsible in overseeing the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in the country. She used the occasion to congratulate His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma for the initiative. She appealed to doctors and nurses to continue giving their best adding there is no amount of money to satisfy them for their services in saving lives. She also appealed to the doctors and nurses to be patient because the people their clients are with different background. Madam Myers called on all to come on board to ensure that the process succeeds.
Delivering his key note address the Resident Minister East William Juana Smith says during the first few years that immediately followed the end of the civil war, the country moved out of the state of emergency to that of recovery. All the various agencies that had anything at all to do with recovery, conducted a nationwide participatory poverty assessment survey. The analysed responses from the communities indicated that poverty and the poor have several characteristics which include among others, lack of proper health care due to inability to afford medical charges. Similarly the 2008 service delivery and participation report indicated that 88% of respondents cited cost as the most common barrier to their ability to access health services.
Government he said “is aware that the economic social and physical destruction caused by the decade long war in the country makes poverty to remain pervasive, widespread and heavily concentrated and several in the rural areas where nearly 80% of the population is poor.” He added that since the government has identified cost as the biggest barrier to accessing health care in the country, His Excellency the president of Sierra Leone on November 5th 2009 announced the initiative of abolishing health user fees and introducing free health care for pregnant women, breast feeding mothers and children under 5 years of age starting from, 27th April, 2010. This medical package he said includes provision of treatment and medicines at no cost for these groups pregnant and breast feeding women and young children who are by far the largest in need of health services and yet are often excluded from them by cost. “This is a huge step forward for a country at the bottom of the Human Development Index, with some of the worst maternal and child mortality rates in the world.”
He appealed to all of us Sierra Leoneans to cooperate with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation which is working currently with its partners the police, the local councils, DHMT, Paramount chiefs and the ACC to ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place. “Communities and Government therefore need to work together to expose corrupt practices and challenge those who stand in the way of this important new programme.”
At the time of writing this piece the nurses in Kenema district had not received their salaries as was promised by the government. Speaking to some of the medical personnel during the launching ceremony at the hospital they expressed disappointment about the government’s failure in remitting their pay into their account at the bank. They said they were promised to get their pay into their accounts since 24th April 2010 but that has not materialise up to the day of the launching
By: Saffa Moriba In Kenema