By Abdul Bero Kamara:
President Ernest Bai Koroma:
On assumption of office in September 2007, His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma promised a progressive turn around for Sierra Leone in three years. That vision was articulated in his Agenda for Change in which he identified five key priority areas to focus on.
Before that the healthcare provision in the country was in a moribund state. The user fees were so high hence, access to healthcare service for all, especially for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five was difficult. Consequently, maternal and child mortality indicators were dismal.
Little or nothing could be done about it because most hospitals lacked ambulance service, and medical stores were absent or dilapidated in most districts, and above all, the few available ones were empty. As a result, the country was far-fetched from meeting its health related millennium development goals (MDGs).
By and large, there was no comprehensive and strategic healthcare plan. Very little attention was paid to the welfare of healthcare workers, and hence morale amongst them was low which further contributed to the catastrophic effects on the health system in the country.
In other to tackle these problems and create a healthier society, the APC government of His Excellency President Koroma, included healthcare delivery scheme into his key priority areas in the Agenda for Change.
That plan was quickly put into action when he launched the free healthcare system for pregnant women, lactating mother and children under five.
As a result, the ‘Koroma-care initiative’ has so far ensured a threefold increase in coverage of healthcare for children under five, and around 70% increase in institutional delivery.
Also, there has been improved training for healthcare workers at all levels, which has helped to strengthen the health care delivery system.
According to the Ministry of Health, the number of functional health facilities has increased from 843 in 2006, to 1179 to present. Central medical stores have been constructed in all districts to ensure the storage of medicines, and medical products.
Free Healthcare Supplies
Government has also established a midwifery schools in Makeni and a telemedicine center at Connaught hospital. This center is adding to the country’s diagnostic capabilities, providing care for patients and continuing education of health workers.
And indeed many Sierra Leoneans and international arbitrators have concluded that the healthcare system under Presidency Ernest Koroma is a success story.
Interestingly, even his most fervent critics have toed the line in praise of his positive transformation in the health care delivery system.
Sierra Leone free healthcare initiative has been called a model initiative by world leaders including Hilary Clinton whose country though the most power in the world cannot boast of a free health care delivery system.
The success of the Koroma-care Initiative has not only been a blessing to the people of Sierra Leone, it has indeed drastically improved the country’s maternal, and child health indicators, and hence helped greatly to move the country from the bottom of the UN-Human Development Index.