We can’t develop human capital without improved health – says President Bio

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 December 2018:

Sierra Leone’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Annual Review Conference, jointly organised by the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, was held at the Bintumani Hotel in Aberdeen, Freetown, last Monday.

The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme is an inter-ministerial initiative, established by the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to support the provision of safe drinking water, by helping to maintain sanitation and hygiene practices in Sierra Leone.

Speaking at the launch of the conference, president Bio applauded the collaborative approach in thinking, about ways to improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans through various interventions in the water, sanitation and hygiene sectors.

He said figures show that in the past five years, thousands of Sierra Leoneans have died as a result of diarrhoeal diseases, typhoid, dysentery, cholera and other water-borne diseases.

He said that although his government has prioritised human capital development, this could be difficult to achieve without improvement in public health outcomes for citizens.

“The mere premature and preventable deaths of some of our nation’s youngest and brightest makes this unacceptable rate of morbidity an urgent priority. My New Direction has prioritised human capital development. We cannot develop human capital if we do not improve public health outcomes for Sierra Leoneans by increasing their access to safe water and sanitation and promoting health behaviours that will minimise the incidence of disease and death,” he said.

President Bio also acknowledged, with gratitude, the various interventions of development partners in supporting capacity building, water and sanitation sector reform and using innovative approaches to provide water in rural and peri-urban areas.

He said that he is particularly grateful for the impact of WASH interventions and for the retention of young children in schools.

“On behalf of the people of Sierra Leone, I register our profound gratitude for your sundry contributions. I am particularly grateful for the impact of WASH interventions for the retention of our young children in schools. We cannot do this alone. The bilateral and multilateral support we have received from strategic partnerships with organisations and institutions have been transformational,” he stated.

He disclosed that his government is working on reforming the legal and policy framework of the Water Act, which would streamline the governance of the WASH sector and provide an enabling environment for inter-ministerial collaboration and the facilitation of engagements with multilateral agencies.

Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Alpha Tejan Wurie, said the conference was a unique opportunity for all stakeholders to critically assess the status of water and sanitation in the country.

He said that in order to maintain a proper health delivery service, hospitals and health centres across the country must be provided with functional and running water facilities to address the hygiene needs of patients.

Minister of Water Resources, Dr Jonathan Tengbeh (Photo), said the government is determined to provide safe drinking water and improve the level of sanitation in the country.

He said that he inherited a sector that lacked sufficient funds and manpower to carry out its mandate. He, however, maintained that his ministry is working very hard to implement sustainable water projects across the country.

The representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said: “We are happy for the exercise of political will to provide safe drinking water for the people of this country. To achieve the Sustainable Goal 3, we need to provide accessible and safe drinking water to all citizens. WHO is committed to working with government in achieving this goal.”

Source credit: Sierra Leone State House Media and Communications Unit

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