Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a significant step towards achieving universal health coverage, the Society for Family Health in Sierra Leone (SFHSL) was officially launched on Friday evening at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Aberdeen. The launch event drew prominent figures from the healthcare sector and various key sectors in the country, including the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Babatunde Ahonsi.
Mr. Dennis Aizobu, the Managing Director of SFH Access Pharm, explained that the Society for Family Health is a pan-African group dedicated to working collaboratively with communities, government entities, donors, and the private sector to promote Universal Health Coverage and social justice for all Africans. He highlighted the organization’s use of social marketing and behaviour change techniques to influence public health practices. Over nearly four decades, SFH has successfully employed this model to ensure healthier lives for communities.
The Social Business Enterprise (SBE) model adopted by SFHSL aims to establish sustainable access to essential products and services in vulnerable communities. SFHSL is committed to expanding access to information, care services, and products in several critical areas, including family planning and reproductive health, HIV and AIDS prevention and management, maternal, newborn, and child health, malaria prevention and treatment, and non-communicable disease management.
Brima Osaio Kamara, the Director of Primary Health Care representing the Ministry of Health, expressed enthusiasm for the SFHSL initiative. He noted that SFHSL’s work aligns with the Ministry’s mission to advance Universal Health Coverage and pledged the Ministry’s support in this endeavour.
In his keynote address, Babatunde Ahonsi, PhD, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, emphasized the importance of taking healthcare to the people, which can catalyze development and growth in other areas. He commended SFH for their timely initiative to establish operations in Sierra Leone.
Ahonsi acknowledged Sierra Leone’s high level of political commitment to the health sector, highlighting the passion demonstrated by the current Minister of Health and the array of health policies in place. He stressed that health is not merely an expenditure but an investment in human capital development. Ahonsi revealed that when he first arrived in Sierra Leone, the health budget stood at 6%, but within three years, it has risen to 11%, moving closer to the Abuja Declaration’s target of 15%.
Umaru Fofanah, a prominent BBC figure who chaired the ceremony, emphasized the crucial role of a robust healthcare system in a nation’s development. He underscored SFH’s role in supporting the government and people of Sierra Leone in building a stronger healthcare infrastructure.
The SFHSL product offerings were unveiled by the UN Resident Coordinator and other dignitaries present at the event, following explanations about the various products by SFHSL officials. MJB/9/10/2023