The Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) has commended the Free Health Care that was launched about a month ago and they are urging the government to see reasons in improving areas that they have fallen short as they believe the health care should not be politicized and give chance to all Sierra Leoneans to enjoy it.
The Chairman of the party John Benjamin said as at 2000, less than 300 health facilities out of the 730 pre-war facilities nationwide were functional. By 2007, the SLPP administration had rehabilitated and provided staff for about 1,000 Peripheral Health Units (PHUs). All District and tertiary hospitals (Connaught and PCMH) were rehabilitated.
He said in 2006 budget, the SLPP administration pronounced the following policy “to increase the affordability of drugs and services, Government has made it a priority to provide free drugs for treatment of the vulnerable population, namely children under 5 years, pregnant women, women in child bearing age and destitute. Fees for surgical operations have been reduced and registration fees for outpatients have been reduced by two thirds”. This policy was largely financed from the national budget. Generally, implementation was limited by inadequate budgetary resources.
The former Minister of Finance said they join the Government and people of the country in supporting the Free Health Care Policy targeting lactating mothers, pregnant women and under fives. “We join Government in expressing our people’s heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to our development partners for funding such a laudable venture”.
The SLPP Chairman said a Policy team of the party has visited several health facilities nationwide. The team will soon make public a report on the status of the facilities with respect to the Free Health Care. Preliminary investigation reveals the following: Inadequate drugs at all the PHUs; Inadequate trained doctors and nurses; Poor transportation for the delivery of drugs and supervision; and limited health facilities
He said the SLPP is also very concern about sustainability of the programme when donor resources dry up. For now, the DFID, UNFPA, Global Fund and other donors are generously supporting the initiative under different programmes and projects. ”We need to be clear on the future costs of the Policy and the sources of financing”.
He praised the health workers that have been working long hours to get the project underway and hope the government will continue to train more nurses and doctors to help combat the high mortality rate in the country.