President of Sierra Leone’s doctors union condemns government spending on luxurious SUVs

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 July 2020:

The president of the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) has criticised the government’s decision to spend much needed cash on luxurious Toyota SUVs, estimated at almost $2 million, instead of buying medicines and PPEs for hospitals.

Last month, the government of president Julius Maada Bio imported dozens of luxurious Toyota SUVs for the use of government ministers and staff managing the COVID-19 Emergency Response. It is estimated that each of the SUVs costs approximately $60,000.

There are reports of several nurses and doctors not receiving their salaries, whilst sick patients kept in dreadful conditions in Covid-19 isolation and quarantine centres are deprived of sufficient food, water and medicines.

Sierra Leone’s healthcare system lacks investments. Doctors and nurses are poorly paid, and very often do not get their salaries for several months. Hospitals are ill-equipped and under-resourced.

Far too many people are dying in hospital wards because of poor diagnosis and lack of medicines.

Since the Ebola pandemic in 2014 and now COVID-19, hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into the country’s healthcare system; but because of corruption and poor prioritisation, less than 40% of government budget is actually spent where its needed to save lives.

Yesterday, the President of the SLMDA – Dr. Delwin M. Findlay, wrote to his members of the SLMDA. This is what he said:

“Good Day all. I am taking this step to update you all on the ongoing health situation in Sierra Leone as concerns  our doctors.

“Today 30th June marks the end of the initial 3 – month agreement by government of Sierra Leone with Healthcare workers on COVID-19 allowances.

“By a press release from the Ministry of Finance on 2nd June 2020, which erroneously stated that all allowances to date had already been paid. The SLMDA released a counter statement debunking the claims of the Ministry of Finance.

“As a result of thi,s the payslip of Dr. Samba Jalloh, General Secretary of SLMDA was published on social media with comments that he had already been paid and that the views of the SLMDA were politically motivated influenced by myself the President of SLMDA.

“Our investigations revealed that little or no effort was made to obtain and verify lists of staff at Isolation and Treatment Centres. It seemed that the authorities were devoid of a working plan to do the verification.

“The executive team headed by the Vice-President, undertook to obtain lists from all Medical Superintendents nationwide, unaided by the Ministry of Finance or any other form of logistics. These lists were produced and have been in the possession of IHPAU, NACOVERC and the Ministry of Finance for more than 2 (two) weeks and still payments have not been made.

“To date we as an association have lost 2 (two) members to COVID-19, Dr. Samuel B. Sesay and Dr. Peter M. George. May their gentle souls rest in peace.

“One of the points on the MOU with the Government of Sierra Leone was the provision of a compensation to the families of deceased doctors. This has now been developed into a Special COVID-19 Life Insurance Policy under the National Insurance Company with GOSL paying the Premium for initial one year.

“This policy includes a compensation of 15% of annual gross salary to any doctor that contracts COVID-19 and survives; Death compensation of 24 (twenty four) months gross salary to the next of kin of the deceased; Critical Illness compensation of up to 50% annual gross salary for any verifiable costs incurred during illness. This will come into effect on 1st July 2020

“The two already deceased doctors are not within the coverage period of this policy. However the compensation to the families of Dr. Samuel Sesay and Dr. Peter George will be paid by GOSL.

“This policy will remain in place after COVID-19 as a Life Insurance Policy for all government doctors.

“Availability of drugs and supplies in Isolation and Treatment Centres is a big headache. With all the money flowing into the COVID-19 fight it seems ”it is easier and more important to buy brand new SUVs than buying much needed drugs and equipment for Isolation and treatment centres, making us the laughing stock of Africa and the world”.

“The Non-COVID Services  are being neglected. Everyday are reports of shortages especially with the Free Healthcare services. No sutures, even paracetamol for children are not available. We as an executive will continue to impress on MOHS on the need for basic supplies. If announcements are made on Electronic media everyday supplies should be made available as a matter of must.

“My colleagues I implore you to continue working today 30th June 2020, Tomorrow July 1st 2020 is another day.

“Please treat every case until proven otherwise,  as potentially infected with COVID-19.”

Commenting on the government’s purchase of 30 luxurious SUVs, a local journalist wrote: “Whilst other countries have government officials cutting down on their salaries to help their governments tackle huge burden on poor citizens, ours are here importing very expensive vehicles claiming to fight Coronavirus Pandemic in Sierra Leone.

“In Sierra Leone, 30 SUVs and 100 Motor Bikes purchased by the Ministry of Finance for Districts and Central Emergency Operations Centers costing Le 5,928,300,000 (five billion, nine hundred and twenty-eight million, three hundred thousand Leones).

“Sad, yet we have frontline health workers who don’t even have gloves, facemasks to handle minor illnesses. Yet, we have health workers who have worked for weeks without salaries and allowances.

“Now to the relevance of the vehicles, I stand to be corrected here, but almost all the management staff of Covid-19 in Sierra Leone already have official vehicles in their service to the state. The Head of EOC is Minister of Defense, he has his official vehicle as Defense Minister. So have others, including the Spokesman of EOC who is Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Western Area Coordinate of EOC Miatta French who is NEC Western Area Commissioner. All of them have official vehicles assigned to them on behalf of the state.

“Why not use this money to provide for people under quarantine? I felt disgusted, and outraged when senior colleague Umaru Fofana reported on BBC Focus on Africa that, there are people under quarantine in Sierra Leone who survive on a single sachet of water (less than 1 litre) a day. Yet we have money to buy vehicles for people who already have official vehicles when you cannot even provide proper quarantine facilities for infected persons in the provinces. Is this not total misplace of priorities?”

Since coming to power in April 2018, the government of president Julius Maada has received over a Billion Dollars in foreign aid and loans to invest in improving public service delivery, and  promote economic growth. But there are fears most of that money are being wasted on luxurious and unnecessary spending, with little or no accountability.

5 Comments

  1. Every day we getting some chilly stories, and again today President Bio was a merchant “a car dealer in Ghana”, now both Ghaanian and British Citizenships are gone. People are really busy searching for this young man’s records, the interesting thing is, they only looking for the negativities. The voters are fools to cast their votes for this man if he was an evil the way you described him. Folks the gov’t purchased new vehicles for the state, not for personal use. If he doesn’t you the folks will be asking the same question “where is the money?” The Sierra Leone medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) criticizing the gov’t; of course they have the right to do so, as patriotic citizens, they have all right

  2. Stargazer, “ Deplorable lie” is what you displayed in this glorious forum by changing your real identity from Saidu Conteh to stargazer after you have been disgracefully expelled because of your lack of respect and lawlessness towards forumites and writers. As far as I am concerned you are a “ jail breaker”. Now back to the subject of quarantine – the unfortunate reality is currently, the USA has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world 2,739,879, with 128,749 deaths. According to health experts, we are not following the example of China where the pandemic started, by hiring an army of contact tracers to find and isolate people who were exposed to the disease. But in China and Sierra Leone, people considered at risk of spreading the disease are mandated to quarantine in specific locations.

    In the USA, citizens are not mandated but advised to home quarantine and if they have underlying health complications, then they can be admitted in the Emergency Room. I personally know health workers who have been through our quarantine system and they personally took care of themselves (including feeding) as compared to Sierra Leone where the government takes full responsibility. Based on scientific research, mandatory quarantine applied in Wuhan China and other countries that have been successful in controlling the spread of this deadly disease, is the only way to flatten the curve and hopefully control it.
    A chartered flight departed Freetown for Washington DC few weeks ago and none of the passengers were quarantined, unlike Sierra Leone where mandatory quarantine was practised months before the global shutdown of all international flights.

    During that period, millions of passengers entered the USA freely and unfortunately, now we cannot travel to Africa, due of flights banned from the E.U. Let’s hope and pray that the New Direction government will continue to save lives and the doctor must respect the process of disbursement of funds, because the Auditor General is quietly watching, as it was in the case of the Ebola and if the New Direction government can pay former corrupt APC officials, pay money to poor people during the 3 days lockdown, currently paying Le 1.3 million to citizens affected by the economic crisis, also pay Le 42 billion for students fees, paid Le 8 million as back payment to each nurse.

  3. What did you say, I didn’t get it? Please wake up from your deep slumber,and soberly repeat what you just said; “The reality is even in the USA the government is not responsible to take care of its citizens under quarantine even health workers, because quarantine centers are not even available in the USA.”Bwahahahahaha – Who told you such a deplorable lie, that you have now embraced as your new personal mantra?(lol) Well,on this noble forum,rest assured,you will not go away unnoticed after spewing outright falsehoods,and red herrings. The truth of the matter is that there are 15 military bases approved by the Dept of defence, and the CDC as quarantine facilities in the United States; THE MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE in California, that recently released 195 evacuees is just one of them. Hey listen,get your facts straight,before it becomes too late for you to salvage whatever little there is, that is left of your credibility on this glorious forum.(lol)

  4. This financial sh** and excellent financial mess will continue till the Bio SLPP is voted out of power. The Bio SLPP has not been involved in any corrupt activity as far as the present ACC is concerned. The truth is, we will never know the severity of corruption under the Bio SLPP until the Bio SLPP lose power and a no nonsense administration with the first Sierra Leonean PhD Criminology expert as ACC boss takes over. Ladies and Gentlemen, State House is between 2023 and 2024 in sight. Have they started packing their suitcases in advance to “get SALONE sorted”? God bless the Republic of Sierra Leone.

    • If the Bio led government is really messing up the country’s coffers, the international community would not have been giving grants and loans to support his government. The EBK led APC government mismanaged our country’s economy to an extent that, the international community shunned them. When Bio took presidency, he instilled confidence in them in less than 2 years. It is all due to his leadership qualities.

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