Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 April 2022:
On Thursday 7 April 2022, Sierra Leone’s President Dr Julius Maada Bio spoke at the opening of the country’s 2022 National Health Summit held in the Freetown International Conference Center in Bintumani, Freetown, where he also recognised and awarded several healthcare workers for their dedication and hardwork.
Speaking at the opneing of the event, President Bio said that; “This year’s theme (Health Promotion for Well-being, Equity and Sustainable Development), resonates with goals my government set in our manifesto commitments five years ago, and outcomes we described and have been working towards in our Medium-Term National Development Plan. It also aligns with international commitments we have made to work toward Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals.”
He thank development partners, friends, policymakers, and most especially, healthcare workers right across Sierra Leone for believing in, supporting, and working assiduously toward a collective vision of improving health outcomes and providing equitable access to affordable, quality healthcare.
“Exactly three years ago at TED in Vancouver…, I challenged…that ‘the most audacious and nation-changing events or policies or even personal choices happen when we ask, ‘Why not,’ then make bold choices, and ensure those bold choices happen.’ We made a bold choice to improve human capital development.
“We asked ourselves ‘why not’ enhance and expand a national ambulance service; develop focused strategic plans and health sector policies; restructure our disease surveillance systems and successfully fight off epidemics and pandemics; operationalise an affordable health insurance scheme; introduce an innovative national health-on-wheels scheme; revamp the leadership and rework the future of health care delivery in this country; and, work with the private sector on new infrastructure and other investments? All of these we have achieved and more,” the President said.
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Austin Demby said that the country’s health system has an enviable reach of about 85% of the population within a five-kilometer distance of a health facility; and that hospital services remain central and critical to the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which is about leaving no one behind and providing timely, appropriate, and high-quality services at an affordable cost for every citizen.
“Implementing the life stages approach to achieving UHC will ultimately lead to accelerated gains in the country’s Human Capital Development. The ministry wants to reduce the maternal mortality rate from 717 to 300 in every 100,000 livebirths, reduce the infant mortality rate from 75 to 28 in every 1000 livebirths, reduce the adolescent birth rate from 102 to 50/1000 livebirths and increase life expectancy from 54-58 years,” he said.
Minister of Finance II, Bockarie Kalokoh, said his ministry is key in transforming health service delivery to UHC, adding that access to quality healthcare services is an investment in Human Capital Development.
He said that a robust and well-implemented scheme could increase workers’ productivity, which in turn should boost output, drive revenue collection, and increase the government’s revenue base to allow available fiscal space for the implementation of critical priority programmes that would ultimately lead to national economic growth and development.
Speaking in her capacity as Champion for Sanitation and Hygiene, Mrs. Fatima Bio said it is a remarkable day to celebrate a major milestone in the health sector, adding that a lot of transformation is happening in the sector since 2018. She said that for a nation to develop, there must be a strong healthcare system to provide adequate care for citizens.
She stated that healthcare is close to her heart and that was why she became a major crusader for the 34 Military Hospital to be transformed into a state-of-the-art hospital, that would provide effective treatment and teaching facilities for healthcare workers.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Dr Babatunde Ahonsi addressed the summit and congratulated President Julius Maada Bio for his leadership in spearheading the prevention and control of the Covid 19 pandemic
He said that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted socio-economic development the world over, including the health sector where there has been disruption of health services.
You can read President Bio full address here: addressed