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SLMDA Concludes 42nd Annual Congress & Scientific Meeting

SLMDA Concludes 42nd Annual Congress & Scientific Meeting

The Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health & Sanitation (MOHS) has concluded its 42nd National Annual Congress & Scientific Meeting with the theme: “Quality Assurance in Healthcare – The Key to Achieving Good Health and Well-being”; and a Symposium was held on the topic:” Cancer Treatment in Sierra Leone: Challenges and Opportunities.”

The interactive meeting which attract the attention of various medical experts / practitioners, medical students, pharmacists, civil society organizations, media institutions among other key private business health entities was held at the Miatta Conference Hall on Brookfield in Freetown on the 14th -15 November 2018.

In his opening statement as Chairman of the Occasion, the Chief Medical Officer of MOHS says SLMDA has been improving gradually with competent members since its establishment and that this Annual Congress & Scientific Meeting would be different with new innovations.

He said one key area that has challenges in the Ministry of Health & Sanitation is human capacity building and that MOHS is willing to create the enabling environment as the theme for this year is:”Quality Assurance in Healthcare”.

“One key area that still has huge challenges in the Ministry of Health & Sanitation is the Monitoring and Supervision Unit,’’Said CMO.Spiritual rewards are waiting for you medical doctors, nurses, and pharmacists depending on how you performed in your duties to save lives.

Delivering the Keynote Address, the Minister of Health, Dr.Alpha Wurie says the theme for this year clearly resonates with the global health agenda for improving population’s health and well-being noting that the them is also in line with the core mandate of his ministry to provide Universal Health Coverage (UHC), such that all people everywhere can access the health services they need, when they need them.

Dr .Wurie noted that the services should be of good quality and should meet the specific needs of the communities they serve. He therefore said, the quality of health services is critical to achieving effective Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in meeting the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“A country’s level of development cannot be assessed by the proportion of Tarmac Roads or the number of millionaires. Maternal and Child mortality rates are major makers of development. With a maternal mortality ratio of 1165 per 100,000 lives births,156 deaths per 1000 live births for under-five and 39 deaths per 1000 live births for neonates, Sierra Leone can hardly be described as a developing country,” Said Dr.Alpha Wurie.

He added, “What is even more alarming is that Mothers and Newborns continue to die from preventable causes like blood loss, high blood pressure, obstructed labour, complications of pre-term birth, asphyxia and infection, even when they are in our health facilities, or in the care of our health service providers.

Professor Wurie stressed that with such a situation, the country requires a thoroughly focused and prioritized set of high-impact interventions for accelerating reduction of maternal, newborn, child and adolescent deaths, with an emphasis on improving the quality of care provided in our health facilities.

He acknowledge the fact that health facilities are ill equipped to carry out quality services and that the lack of equipment constitutes only a little portion of the factors that contribute to the unacceptably high maternal and child mortalities in the country.

He recalled that, results from the 2016 MDSR Report recorded 706 maternal deaths nationwide adding that analysis of the results revealed that as much as 81% of these deaths happened in health facilities and only about 14% in communities and 5% in transit to the health facility. He said the 2017 Annual MDSR Report also showed a similar picture with 551 maternal deaths nationwide of which 79% died in the health facility,14% died in the communities whilst 7% died in transit to the health facility.

“We need to ensure that our regulatory bodies are fully functional and empowered to monitor service delivery, instill discipline and take corrective action in cases of medical malpractice, Health Minister revealed adding his ministry will ensure that the health facilities have the correct equipment and supplies to enable them provide the required services.

“It is in this regard that I think the medical associations and regulatory bodies including the Nursing & Midwifery Board, the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA), Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Council (SLMDC), Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone (PBSL), have a pivotal role to play to reverse the status quo on maternal and child mortality in our country,’’ Professor Wurie maintained.

Dr .Wurie said this is a collective responsibility and that it requires the efforts and inputs from all stakeholders to ensure quality in health service delivery. He said already the ministry has taken some steps towards improving the Quality of Care (QoC) for mothers and neonates with the setting up of Special Baby Care Units (SBCUs) in four referral hospitals including Ola During Children’s Hospital (ODCH), Bo Government Hospital, Kenema Government Hospital and Makeni Government Hospital.

He said they have also set up the Maternal Death Surveillance and Response (MDSR) program, which tracks all suspected maternal deaths in the country, investigates the causes of death and takes proactive steps to prevent the recurrence of similar causes of deaths in all districts.

He said the ministry is also in position to provide modern equipment in all regional Hospitals, CT and MRI Scanning and other diagnosis and treatment equipment and also improve the conditions of service of Health Care Personnel across the country.

Speaking on the topic of the symposium, “Cancer Treatment in Sierra Leone: Challenges and Opportunities”, the minister said Sierra Leone is in dire need of improved patient’s access to quality and equitable cancer care.

The minister continued that ,the World Health Organization (WHO) Classified cancer as the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for 8.8 million deaths in 2015 adding the WHO and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) estimate that almost 3000 people develop cancer each year in Sierra Leone and that over 2000 die from the disease. He said the Cancer-related deaths in females were mainly due to breast and cervical cancers which he said account for 50.4% representing more than half of the total cancer burden among women.

He said MOHS have signed MOU with Varian for the building and equipping of a radiotherapy unit and he commended the first Lady, Madam Fatima Bio for taking the lead in addressing cancer at the first Anniversary of Merk Foundation in Dakar which he said has started to yield good fruit.

He concluded by assuring the gathering that MOHS will continue to engage government and development partners to identify and exploit opportunities to develop capacity for cancer response.

In his statement, the President of SLMDA, Dr.Sorie Conteh expressed gratitude to MOHS especially to the minister for gracing the occasion.

In her PowerPoint presentation, the WHO Country Director, Dr.Janet Kayita present key message on the Quality Assurance and Quality improvement.

Dr .Janet Kayita expressed happiness to SLMDA and the Government of Sierra Leone for joining them in promoting quality health and assure the people of WHO’s continual support towards promoting quality health care delivery as the theme for this highlighted.

By Alhassan Bangura

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