By Winifred Hannah Koroma
Members of Parliament on Thursday called for effective and efficient monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to be put in place at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation following their ratification of a bilateral agreement for an additional $18 million earmarked for the reproductive and child health project.
According to the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Alhaji Foday L. Mansaray, the grant agreement seeks to increase the utilization of a package of essential health services for pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of five.
He told the lawmakers that an original grant amount of $20.0 million from the African Catalytic Growth Fund (ACGF) was approved on 18th June 2010 for the second phase of the Reproductive and Child Health project, followed in September 2012 by the first additional financing of $5.69 million which became effective in April 2013.
He noted that the project is meant to augment government’s efforts in its Free Healthcare delivery services for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under the age of five.
He said that the project will implement a set of activities aimed at building the capacity of Local Government Finance Department for supervision and monitoring the implementation of the provision of basic services in the health sector, including provision of training in medical waste management to Local Councils’ Environment Committees.
Minister Mansaray said the project would also implement activities aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in supervision, monitoring and evaluation of the project and that of Njala University and University of Sierra Leone for the provision of pre-service and post-graduate medical training.
Hon. Foday Rado Yokie cautioned Ministries, Departments and Agencies against absenteeism during parliamentary debates on agreements that concerns them, and about non-adherence to submissions and recommendations from lawmakers.
The opposition MP said the grant should be judiciously utilized for its intended purpose as lot of monies have been spent on reproductive health projects.
Hon. Isata Kabia of the ruling party submitted that capacity building of staff in the ministry should be prioritized as most patients in public hospitals lack basic hygiene, despite huge sums of money allocated to the ministry.
She urged officials to educate and inform citizens on sustainable payments of medical fees and to install proper supervision mechanisms as the ministry currently lacks appropriate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.