October 6, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Deputy Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation yesterday stated that the ministry fully recognises the importance of community health workers in the provision of health services to the most vulnerable, especially pregnant women and children under-five.
Dr. Sarian Kamara was speaking at the Bintumani Hotel, while chairing the opening ceremony of a three-day multi-stakeholder collaborative workshop to discuss the country’s Community Health Worker (CHW) strategies and implementation.
She said the ministry took cognisance of the need for a strong community health workers’ programme because the country continues to have one of the highest rate of maternal and child mortality.
She revealed that with help from partners, they now have in place a revised Community Health Workers’ programme and strategy which would be launched in the coming weeks and rolled out throughout the country.
According to her, the revised CHW programme and strategy would broaden the scope of services community health workers would offer to citizens, adding that they would also be provided with pre-service training, supervision and salary required to do their work.
Dr. Kamara maintained that the revised CHW programme and strategy would also help community health workers reach more women and children, especially those in hard-to-reach areas of the country.
“The workshop is coming at an important time for the CHW programme which aimed to improve health delivery in the country. The ministry has made community ownership a key pillar of the basic package of essential health services,” she said.
On behalf of civil society organisations, Charles Mambu from Health For All Coalition welcomed the initiative and urged that it should focus on community health workers for effective and efficient healthcare delivery.
He stated that most of the maternal mortality records in hospitals come from the community, claiming that community health workers are not empowered and that drugs available to them are sometimes in short supply.
Delivering the keynote address, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation I, Madina Rahman, said the ministry sees the multi-stakeholder collaborative approach as adding value to the development and implementation of the Community Health Workers strategy.
According to her, a multi-stakeholder collaborative process for Sierra Leone would allow community health and digital strategies to inform each other’s development, leading to harmonised, interoperable strategies and implementation.
“We see this process as complementing our ongoing efforts at the ministry, bringing to the dialogue the most recent learning and best practice in digital health,” she said.