By Regina Pratt
According to officials of the Reproductive Health Division of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, a new voucher system for the reduction of maternal mortality and teenage pregnancy will soon be implemented in the country.
This was disclosed during the opening ceremony of a two-day workshop with various health partners to get first-hand information about the new voucher system which is set to take effect.
The training workshop, which was funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), was held on 8 and 9 April 2014, at the Young Men Christian Association Hall on Fort Street in Freetown.
Director of Marie Stopes Sierra Leone, Manty Tarawalie, who was one of the facilitators at the workshop, informed participants that the voucher system is meant to strengthen health institutions, improve and save the lives of citizens living in remote areas and enable them receive the best services needed.
Reproductive Health Program Specialist at UNPF, Dr. Jarrie Kabba Kebbe said the new initiative was introduced by United Nations Secretary-General in a bid for African countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
Dr. Kabba Kebbe said that though the free healthcare initiative is reducing maternal mortality, yet there are challenges, including socio- cultural barriers in remote areas.
She noted that they need to increase awareness-raising campaigns for the public to have knowledge about the system, adding that they were now targeting the private sector.
“This new approach will provide quality service delivery for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five who reside in hard to reach terrain and reduce maternal and infant mortality,” she said.
Understanding the voucher concept and traditional barriers were some of the major topics discussed during the training workshop, while the nurse participants and healthcare workers in attendance were in agreement that religion and distance are major barriers to patients.