Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 March 2022:
President Dr Julius Maada Bio yesterday launched the Health-On-Wheels Initiative, the first such effort by Sierra Leone at actualising its universal health coverage commitment with support from the government of China, according to report from State House.
Speaking at the event, president Bio said: “So, Sierra Leone’s commitment to achieving Universal Health Coverage has been evident in our international commitments, our partnerships with various nations and multilateral institutions, and our efforts to restructure our national health sector.
“We are one of few countries in West Africa to invest over 12% of our budget into health care. My government has allocated over 75 billion Leones to refurbishing, improving, or rebuilding healthcare infrastructure right across the country.
“For the first time in fifteen years, I repeat, for the first time in fifteen years, my government has undertaken to rehabilitate Makeni Government Hospital, Magburaka Government Hospital, Port Loko Government Hospital, Kabala Government Hospital and other regional hospitals.”
President Bio noted that the impacts of those investments are significant by any measure and are above politics, adding that since 2018 – maternal mortality has been reduced from 1,165 to 720 per 100,000 women, with far fewer mothers now dying in childbirth.
“Far fewer infants and children under five are dying. There has been a 100% increase in the number of people living with HIV receiving lifesaving treatment from just over 23,000 in 2017 to over 46,000. Malaria-related deaths have also been reduced by 47% – far fewer people are dying of malaria. Add these to our much-lauded fight against successive waves of COVID-19 and you will see that, in just 4 years, we have made great progress as a nation,” he concluded.
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Austin Demby, said the launch of the health initiative is a laudable venture that is geared toward bringing health care services to people in remote areas and poor communities. He added that it will also embrace and advance the quality of human capital development of the country.
“The government of Sierra Leone, through the dynamic leadership of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, will continue to strengthen the health care system of the country. More hospitals will be built and more refurbished throughout the country. This will be done to give access to health care services to all citizens, regardless of where you are,” he concluded.
Country Director of Health Development Partners, Isaac Ahemesah, congratulated the Ministry of Health and Sanitation on what he called a great initiative that is aimed at bringing health services to the doorsteps of people as fast as possible. He added that the occasion also marked a significant milestone in their collective drive toward achieving universal health coverage in Sierra Leone.
“The Health Development Partners recognise the efforts that the government and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation are making to establish the Sierra Leone Health Insurance Scheme, which when fully implemented will reduce financial barriers and enhance access to health service in the country,” he noted.
Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Hu Zhangliang congratulated the government for what he described as its notable achievement in social and economic development, particularly in the health sector. He admitted that facing severe challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic and complicated international and regional situations is tough but assured of the support of his country to Sierra Leone.
“China and Sierra Leone are reliable friends over the past 50 years since our two countries established diplomatic ties on the basis of a win-win result. China will continue to support Sierra Leone in its development trajectory. I sincerely wish the mobile health project will be a success,” he concluded.
We just want this president to diliver on his manifesto promises he made to us back in 2017/2018 culminating to the presidential poll of that year which he won. The health of our nation will definitely determined the future social, economic and political agenda of our country for years to come. Health on wheels, and working with the government of the peoples Republic of China, and their commitment to lend their support to the ministry of health to achieve this lofty goals of universal health coverage for all Sierra Leoneans, regardless of your status in our society, and sustaining the drive should be the benchmark under which we should judge Bio and his one directionless government.
Because for all the promises Bio made when he was running for office, and despite the overwhelming response and support his government had from our international development partners, IMF, World Bank, the European Union and NGos, and the billion of dollars to matched their rhetoric and commitment to change peoples lives in our country, four years on we are yet to see a tangible result that we can point to and say thank goodness we have this “POPOA ” one directionless government in the helm.
It goes without saying Bio is full of talk, but when it comes to delivery of public services to our poor and wretched peoples, he always have an excuse for his failures. If we take a trip to Connaught Hospital, Kenema government hospital and Kabala government hospital, and compare like for like, chances are you will be faced with the same old depilated buildings, with the white paints covered in red caked dust. And the structures looking like they are emerging from a bomb crater. What you see from outside, will give you an idea of how our hospitals looks from the inside. Yes his government might have increased the government health budget by 12%, but most of this monies, are not track and is susceptible to cuts by corrupt public officials as they cascade through the bureaucratic nightmare that has been a futuristic symbol of grab what you can mentally, that has becomes the root and branch of our countrys problems of underdevelopment.