March 15, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
In a bid to ensure a safe and clean environment, Ministry of Health and Sanitation is poised to reintroduce Sanitary Inspectors across the country, as well as a National Emergency Medical Services.
Many years ago, Sierra Leone implemented a systematic inspection programme that ensured a clean and safe environment through premises inspection, but the practice disappeared as a result of lack of enforcement of sanitary regulations.
After successful engagement with stakeholders, especially councilors in the east, south and north of the country, the health ministry yesterday brought together councilors of the Freetown City Council and the Western Area Rural District Council, among others, at Leone Lodge, to give their input to the proposed Expanded Sanitary Inspection Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement (ESICOME) and the National Emergency Medical Services (NEMS).
Delivering his keynote address, Health Minister Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah said reviving the sanitary inspection programme was one way of ensuring that issues related to environmental health and sanitation were put back at the top of the country’s development agenda.
He stated that the re-introduction of the sanitary programme would be backed by strong regulations and that sanitary inspectors would have powers to arrest and prosecute, and to levy fines and custodian sentences on defaulters.
“The country has been overtaken by a filthy environment as a result of a halt in the practice of sanitary inspection. The revival of the Public Health Aide or Sanitary Inspector as they used to be called many years ago will bring back the past glory of the culture of hygiene practices in the rural and urban communities,” he said, while calling for the full support of key stakeholders, including the police, judiciary and the Local Government Ministry to ensure success.
With regard the National Emergency Medical Services, Dr. Fofanah noted that the ministry plans to extend pre-hospital care and emergency transportation to the wider population through a service that would include call centre, dispatch and sign post, efficient management of ambulance fleet service to ensure improvement of the emergency units at regional hospitals and other health facilities.
According to him, the president believes in collaboration and consultation as a good and profitable initiative to building a resilient healthcare delivery system in Sierra Leone, which is why he wants the people to be at the centre of the implementation.
The health minister also spoke about the misuse of ambulance, lack of maintenance culture and recklessness in handling property meant for the utilisation of the citizenry.
Meanwhile, participants discussed issues germane to the success of the programme, including recruitment and deployment of ambulance staff, cost of running the project, service for hard-to-reach areas, and penalty for the misuse of ambulance and hoax calls