Abdul Fonti: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 October 2019:
Sierra Leone’s National Medical Supplies Agency (NMSA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), has officially set in motion the distribution of free health care medicines across Sierra Leone to support President Bio’s free health care initiative for needy Sierra Leoneans.
While the recently established NMSA, which is charged by law to procure, store and distribute drugs for the West African country, had started distributing drugs in various parts of the country, the official distribution commenced last Thursday at the DHMT (Western Urban) in Clinetown, Freetown.
The event was attended by several stakeholders and government officials, including the Minister of Health and Sanitation – Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie (Photo), accompanied by senior staff of the ministry; Managing Director and Deputy of NMSA, District Medical Officer (DMO), DHMT Staff, Chairman of Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Health, Councillors and Civil Society Organisations from across the country.
A total of six trucks loaded with free health care medicines and other medical supplies were handed over to the DHMT in Clinetown, following a brief formal ceremony.
The Managing Director of NMSA – Dr. Lawrence Sandy, confirms that the variety of drugs being distributed include treatment and preventive drugs for HIV, Tuberculosis, Malaria, Bed nets for Malaria and Plumpy Nuts for Nutrition.
The distribution continues in the western area while the team is scheduled to head to the provinces starting November 4 2019.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Sandy disclosed that the first phase of the distribution will take them across all sixteen districts in the country. “Beyond the districts, we will target the over one thousand Primary Health Units (PHUs) in the chiefdoms,” he noted.
The distribution, he said, is not only limited to free healthcare drugs but all other essential drugs and medical supplies available in the country for distribution.
NMSA, he said, is committed to ensure that such nationwide distribution exercise continues on a quarterly basis.
He assured the audience that NMSA will continue to procure, store safely and distribute accordingly as and when the resources are readily available, and called on the beneficiaries including staff to use the products judiciously to ensure sustainability.
The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Alpha Tejan Wurie expressed elation that the government is fulfilling its promise and owning up to its responsibilities. He hastened to clarify that the President’s free healthcare initiative of 2018/19 is different from the 2010 initiative.
“The new initiative has attracted a lot of positive changes, including government’s financial contribution for the drugs and sets of beneficiaries,” he pointed out.
He announced that the Government of Sierra Leone only started contributing to the payment of free healthcare drugs in 2018 under the leadership of President Bio.
“10% of the free healthcare drugs cost was paid for by the government in 2018; 1.5 million dollars, which is an equivalent of 30% of the cost was paid for in 2019; and a total of 2.5 million dollars, amounting to 50% of the cost would be paid next year,” the minister disclosed.
He further announced that the Government of Sierra Leone will start procuring cost recovery drugs for its citizens in 2020 to cater for the categories of citizens not benefiting from the free healthcare package.
According to the minister, the new direction government has introduced three different allowances for the health sector workforce to enhance their welfare and productivity. These allowances include bio-hazard, location and on-call.
The new direction government, he said, has returned respectability to the health sector, while calling on the workers to continue to offer the required quality services.
He disclosed that the government values transparent governance, thus the decision to include the civil society to help monitor the process.
“It’s high time the citizens accepted that the needed change can only be achieved by our joint efforts,” he noted, while calling on all to forget the politics and focus on national development.
He expressed appreciation to the councillors, including those from the opposition, who have been supporting the process, and assured that the government will continue to provide the required necessities for its people.