The Government of Sierra Leone in collaboration with its partners launched the reproductive and child health strategic plan for 2008-2010 over the weekend, at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown.
Delivering the opening remarks the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Arthur Williams who also doubles as the chairman of the launching ceremony, explained about the background of the strategic plan for 2008-2010 which emanated from the decline of health delivery services and the increase of child mortality rate in the country.
In his welcome address the minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Soccoh Kabia, expressed thanks and appreciation to all those who contributed to the drafting of the strategic plan particularly UNICEF, World Bank, DIFID and the African Development Bank for their financial and technical inputs to the three years reproductive and child health strategic plan.
He added that they were committed to achieving the human development goals, and one of the major benchmarks in achieving the UN-MDGs was the formulation of a strategic plan for reproductive child health which was a blue print that would be implemented.
Dr Soccoh noted that,” the country is moving from an emergency response phase to a more sustainable development orientation, this makes the health ministry more active in the successful implementation of the strategic plan, as $30m will be provided by the World Bank for a period of four years, DFID $100m for a period of 10years while ADB will provide $28m for a period of four years”.
He also promised to work with all partners in the health sector who signed a memorandum towards the improvement of health care deliveries in the country.
He added that decentralization of primary health care would be implemented effectively and efficiently through the District Health management Team with an appointment of a director to the effect, that would monitor all the activities of the Health ministry in collaboration with the local government and finance ministries.
Dr Soccoh highlighted some of the serious challenges faced by the health sector which included inadequate staff, as the country could only boast of 90 trained and qualified medical doctors in the entire country and the poor conditions of service in the health sector.
Presentation of the strategic plan was done made by the director of Planning and Information, Clifford W Williams, while Richard Conteh, the deputy minister of Finance and Economic Planning promised to work with all sectors in handling financial matters and the president of Sierra Leone Dental Association, Dr Jambai also made a statement.
The visiting Executive Director of UNICEF, Ann Veneman in her statement, said Sierra Leone had the world worst child mortality rate, and that “it is against this back dropped that we have supported the Sierra Leone Government to improve the health sector.”
Officially launching the reproductive and child health strategic plan, President Ernest Bai Koroma stated that at the end of the three years plan they hoped enormous progress could have been made in achieving some of the goals highlighted in the strategic plan.
He promised to monitor their activities nationwide through his office, added that the government would increase budget allotment to the health sector to implement provisions of the act that had been passed for the protection and development of “our children because there is a familiar saying that health is wealth.”
The president congratulated the experts who designed the strategic plan and development partners for their continuous support to the government and people of Sierra Leone, in achieving not only the millennium development goals, but for the sustainable developments of the entire country.
He also expressed delight over the timely visit of the UNICEF Executive Director for the significant role they were playing in promoting the welfare of children in the country.
By Saidu Bah