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Revamping the health sector in Sierra Leone to meet the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 (Part One)

Revamping the health sector in Sierra Leone to meet the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 (Part One)

The Ministry of Health in Sierra Leone needs a lot of revamping to meet the millennium development goals in 2015.  Indeed, the health sector is the yardstick of development in any nation that reflects how healthy that nation is. Unequivocally, the government’s support and zest in developing the health sector is enormous in terms of political, national and economic enhancement. The importance of this ministry is everyone’s concern. I am therefore positive that madam health minister you will surely get all the support you may need to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in Sierra Leone. (Photo:  Dr. Augustine Kamara, author)

Indeed, the health minister is right in saying that the millennium development goals for 2015 are farfetched to be accomplished, I would agree with you as I did see the appalling health condition of the country during a fact finding mission conducted by members of our health organization during our visit to Sierra Leone in the month of May 2010. We visited the Connaught hospital in Freetown, Lunsar Health Center, Makeni hospital and the Magburaka hospital to name a few. I was driven into tears as the scenario was unbelievable especially in the Magburaka hospital where we arrived in the late evening hours. There was no electricity, and nurses were clouting in the dark taking vital signs, and administering intravenous medication, the patients were lying on metallic beds with no mattresses. It is in Makeni the provincial capital of the north that I saw the worst marasmic child in my years of practice.

I am sure madam minister, looking at the decimated picture of the ministry of health that is why His Excellency President Dr Earnest B. Koroma appointed you to rectify the situation. I believe your charisma and contacts you have established around the world would see you making another milestone of success in this ministry. We have seen efforts organized by the government in the maternal and child health care which strides in terms of development has changed the ugly medical statistics that has haunted the ministry of health poor records.

Also, Sierra Leone is doing well in the area of the HIV program and I am of the greatest optimism that with the dream team of Dr Earnest Koroma not’ Wusum stars’ he has put in place, and with his constant monitoring for good grades of performance from each ministry the agenda for change will work.   Permit me madam minister to inject suggestions you may already know as well as personnel in the ministry of health. The World Health Organization (WHO) through its global efforts is doing well to create health for all and now the millennium development goal in Sierra Leone is no exception.

Sierra Leone like many other poor countries is not alone in the strife for good health systems and a lot of support is given and many training programs are in place, yet there is pessimism of not going to reach our target.  Sierra Leone in terms of theory, we are well known lawyers but when it comes to practicality we have paper engineers and neighboring Senegal is our remedy for constructions. I think this is where we are falling short of achieving our dreams and aspirations.  We know the primary health care elements and fortunately Sierra Leone is doing well in this area, our nurses and other paramedical staffs are doing their best to contend with the situation.  However, in the area of secondary and tertiary health care, we are deficient and neighboring Ghana is the answer to our deficiencies.  Now let us examine ourselves with a few questions and what needs to be done.  The global action is seen to strengthen health systems but until we carve and map our problems and attempt to solve them with positive solutions within our borders so as to meet international standards we will still be in disarray with our health systems.  Needless to use technical terms, the layman would tell you that the health system is more bureaucratic than practical and both should go hand in hand. Looking at this issue in a more professional and technical terms, we need to decentralize and put equal strength on every district directorates of the health sector, to monitor health systems as far as our peripheries, and taking into account that manpower training and incentives  should be vigorously pursued.

Quantitative and qualitative assurance would ensure good outcomes from set objectives. Let us start by knowing our census accurately so as to meet the needs of our population. Health statistics gathered in the entire country which will include different age groups from infancy to old age will enable to us improve issues affecting the health sector. What have we accomplished in our target areas for the past years and what are our objectives?  What needs to be done in providing scholarships for training personnel?  These are very important areas that will enable us to meet our objectives.  A monitoring system is necessary to follow up with outcomes.   I am sure if we address all these vital areas in our health sector in Sierra Leone as well by putting the right man in the right place will help us to meet the Millennium goal of 2015.

Written by Dr. Augustine A. Kamara, Virginia, USA

About the Author: Dr. Augustine A. Kamara (MD) is a trained pediatrician in Cairo, Egypt and practiced in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for over 10 years.  He is presently a lecturer in Northern Virginia Community Colleges, USA in the areas of Anatomy, Physiology, EKG, and Pharmacology.

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