ACC undertakes on the spot assessment of the free health care implementation
With support from Irish Aid, the Anti-Corruption Commission has embarked on nation wide monitoring of the Free Health Care implementation and assessment of the impact on beneficiaries and health service providers.
The exercise which commenced on Tuesday 16th to Thursday 26th September 2013 targeted both the Primary and Secondary Health Care in all the twelve districts of Sierra Leone and consisted of two teams of ACC staff from the Public Education and Outreach and Systems and Processes Review Departments.
The teams made unannounced visits to the district hospitals and selected Peripheral Health Units, conducted interviews with Medical Superintendents, District Medical Officers, Heads of PHUs, other key health workers, nurses and patients. They also administered questionnaires at the Out Patient, Pediatric and Under Five wards, Pharmacy and Stores to see if the Free Health Care beneficiaries are making purchases for drugs or consumables, paying for consultation, registration and treatment, whether the FHC initiative meets their expectations, the challenges they faced in accessing the FHC and the impact on their lives.
The Director of Public Education and External Outreach Department Mr. Shollay Davies who led one of the teams to Bombali, Tonkolili, Koinadugu, Port Loko, Kambia and Moyamba Districts explained to the Medical Superintendents and District Medical Officers that the objective of the exercise was to monitor the impact of the FHC in terms of accessibility and challenges and showcase the impact in the form of a T.V documentary. In addition to the documentary, he disclosed that at the end of the exercise, the Monitoring and Compliance Unit of the Systems and Processes Review Department will produce a comprehensive report on its findings.
Director Davies said the exercise was not meant to criminalize health workers or a fault finding mission but to get a clear picture of the status of the implementation process, the challenges faced by service providers and how it has impacted on the lives of pregnant women, lactating mothers and under five children. He added that the exercise was to also enquire from the FHC beneficiaries and health service providers whether ACC’s intervention in ensuring transparency and accountability in the FHC scheme was yielding dividend.
He told the Medical Superintendents and District Medical Officers that the Free Health Care Program is very crucial to the ACC that was why it was putting monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure its success. Director Davies lamented that one of the biggest threat to the Free Health Care program continues to be the issue of transparency and accountability, citing lack of proper records in terms of utilization and delivery. “We stand the risk of losing the gains we have made in improving the lives of people if we fail to enhance transparency and accountability” he observed. The Director said the ACC is not oblivious of the many challenges facing the health sector but noted that in the midst of all the challenges, it has a part to play as an institution to ensure effective health delivery system in the country.
However, beneficiaries and community members interviewed expressed both positive and negative experiences in accessing the FHC at the district hospitals and community health centres. Health workers at the respective districts and PHUs highlighted the successes of the FHC among which are increase in access to health facilities and drop in maternal and infant mortality but made mention of various challenges in the implementation of the program among which are frequent shortage of drugs, the push as opposed to the pull system of supply of drugs and bad roads.
Lot of issues, concerns and challenges bothering on the success of the Free Health Care implementation came out during the monitoring and impact assessment, which according to the Director of Public Education and Outreach Department will form part of the monitoring report and T.V documentary. The monitoring and impact assessment exercise was climaxed by discussions and phone in program at Radio Bintumani in Kabala, Radio Mankneh in Makeni and Radio Kolenten in Kambia.
Other members of the team included Michael Sesay, Head of Public Education Unit, Al-Hassan Sesay, Senior Public Education Officer, Mohamed Ali Kamara, Senior Public Education Officer and Samson Saidu, Monitoring and Compliance Officer.
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