By Kadrie Koroma
The Directorate of Planning, Policy and Information in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has concluded a three-day ‘communication and coordination retreat’ at the Place Resort, Tokeh Beach in the Western Rural that was aimed at building an effective and efficient service delivery system in the health sector.
In her opening statement, the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Ms. Miatta Kargbo, described the event as a gathering aiming at bringing the ministry together as one family that would chart the way forward in moving the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ forward as a government and as a country.
She encouraged members of the ministry’s top management team to bury their differences and work in one direction as professionals and administrators with a view to achieving the ministry’s desired goal. External forces, the minister beseeched, should not be allowed to derail the progress being made by the ministry, and implored her staff to continue to work in the interest of the ministry and the country.
The retreat, Madam Kargbo opined, would help improve communications, collaboration and coordination in the spirit of team work.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo, while speaking on the status of the health sector in Sierra Leone, defined “health” as the state of the physical and mental wellbeing of the individual, and the responsibility of the ministry to ensure all Sierra Leoneans maintain good physical and mental health status.
He said the National Health Sector Strategic Plan of 2010 was developed in line with the MDGs to create a health system that is accessible and affordable to all.
Dr. Kargbo said though there are still challenges in promoting maternal and child health in the country, yet significant progress has been made on the decline in mortality rates, improvement on immunization, capacity building of staff, health financing and health information systems, routine data collection, and more training institutions across the country.
Commenting on the challenges, Dr. Kargbo said human resource for health has been the biggest challenge, the high incidence of teenage pregnancy resulting to the high maternal deaths, inadequate basic diagnostic equipment and infrastructures, among others, including government’s obligation to honour the 15 percent Abuja Declaration budget allocation on health.
Outlining the positive moves by the ministry and the government in building a sound health system for the entire population, the Chief Medical Officer called for a review of the 2010 National Health Sector Strategic Plan, strengthening of the Free Health Care initiative, expanding coverage that would include persons with disability, planning for the construction of a 500 bed multi-specialty hospital to meet the need for specialized care, making Connaught Hospital a centre of excellence, strengthening the health management information system, and the construction of training institutions for community health officers and midwives in Makeni and Kenema.
Presentations by the Director of Planning, Policy and Information, Abu Bakarr Kamara, on the ministry’s Social Health Insurance Scheme, to be piloted in Bo and Koinadugu districts for which Le3.5 billion has been allocated in the 2014 budget, and discussions on barriers and the way forward by the facilitator and consultant of Corporate Turnaround International (CTI), Mr. Modupeh Taylor-Pearce, formed highpoint of the retreat.