World Bank Grants Sierra Leone $5.6M for Reproductive and Child Health Projects
Officials of the Washington DC based World Bank headquarters have demonstrated their satisfaction with the fiscal policy and governance regarding the President Ernest Bai Koroma led government, by supporting the Country’s Reproductive and Child Health Projects with additional funding, in the sum of $5,690,614. (Photo: l-r Ambassador Ibrahim S. Conteh, Jan Walliser Acting VP Africa region, and country director Sergiy Kulyk)
The official signing ceremony in respect of the loan which took place during the evening hours of Thursday September 27 2012 at 1818 H Street NW, Washington DC USA, saw Jan Walliser Acting vice President Africa region signing on behalf of World Bank and Deputy Chief of Mission, Ambassador Ibrahim S. Conteh signing on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone.
Speaking before the signing ceremony, World Bank’s acting Vice President Africa region Jan Wallisser said “we are pleased to inform you that the World Bank hereby agrees to your government’s request, to provide your Country (Sierra Leone) an additional financing in the sum of five Million Six Hundred and Ninety Thousand Six Hundred and Fourteen United States Dollars ($5,690,614) to assist in the financing of the Country’s Reproductive and Child Health projects.”
He said the loan became a reality as a result of the fulfillment of the World Bank’s criteria by the Sierra Leone Government.
Responding, Deputy Chief of Mission Sierra Leone Embassy, Washington DC Ambassador Ibrahim S. Conteh thanked the World Bank for its support and gave an assurance for the money’s judicious use.
Ambassador Ibrahim S. Conteh said the continuous support to government projects by the World Bank clearly indicates, that the fiscal policy of the government is on the right track, and monies received by the government have been put to its rightful use.
On 28 April 2010, President Ernest Bai Koroma introduced a groundbreaking free healthcare program (free healthcare for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children under the age of five). A program the British government described “a Sierra Leonean initiative” that has helped reduce maternal and child deaths considerably.
During his speech at the closing of Parliament on Tuesday September 25th 2012, President Ernest Bai Koroma recalled assuming governance in 2007, and said his Government was faced with high infant, child, and maternal mortality rates. He said Health facilities were poorly distributed, and there was a critical shortage of all categories of health workers and professionals. “Key health training institutions provided low turnout of graduates to meet demands and much of the existing health workforce required professional development.
“My Government listed Health amongst its first priorities in the Agenda for Change- developed a 5-year National Health Sector Strategic Plan (NHSSP-2010-2015), the Free Health Care Policy; and several other policies. According to President Ernest Bai Koroma, Government’s implementation of the “Free Health Care” has resulted in a 250% increase in the number of under-fives outpatient consultations compared to the period before the launch of the Free Healthcare, and this trend is continuing. “Immunization coverage for children increased from 67% in 2006 to 82% in 2011 and a threefold increase in the percentage of children sleeping under insecticide treated bed nets.”
The President said Ante-natal care attendance increased three-fold as a result of the Free Health Care Initiative; and there is more than 50% reduction in the number of women dying from pregnancy related conditions at public hospitals. “Between April 2010 and March 2011, the Free Health Care Initiative led to nearly 2 million additional under five consultations, over 39,000 more women delivered their babies in a health facility and 12,000 maternity complications were managed in health facilities with a 60% drop in the fatality rate in these cases.”
He said Government has commenced free treatment of malaria for all age groups in all public health facilities (PHUs and Hospitals) when confirmed by the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test. “Malaria control noted significant progress especially in the areas of prevention using Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets. “In 2010, about 3.2 million Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets were distributed to all households nationwide.” Said President Ernest Bai Koroma.
He said there has been an increase in the total workforce in the public health sector from 7,164 in 2009 to 8,125 in 2010, which has also been increased further to 8,446 in 2011.
To address the inequitable distribution of health workers in the country, the government provides incentive allowances to health workers in remote communities. “We have also ensured the mobile recruitment of health staff to ensure staff retention especially in the rural areas.” Said President Koroma. Adding, “Since September 2007 to date, the Pharmaceutical Directorate (Drugs and Medical Supplies) has undergone tremendous positive changes ranging from procurement and distribution of supplies from $9m in 2008 to $12m in 2009, $16m in 2010 and $19m in 2011. “This is increasing the availability, accessibility and affordability of safe and effective drugs by over 100% within five years. “With our introduction of Free Health Care, over 80% of the most essential drugs are now available at all times in public health facilities, resulting in the increase of over 60% hospital and PHU attendance by pregnant and lactating women and children less than five years of age.
“As a government of infrastructure we ensured that a total of 1190 health facilities are now functional compared to 843 in 2006. “We built maternity wards in Kabala, Kono, Bo and Kenema government hospitals respectively to facilitate supervised facility delivery by skilled personnel. “We established Five Basic Emergency Obstetric Care (BEMOC) centers each in all the 13 districts. “We constructed a regional referral hospital in Bombali and district hospitals in Moyamba, Kabala and Kono were rehabilitated. “Eleven district hospitals are at various stages of rehabilitation. “We constructed the central medical store and 13 district medical stores were constructed to enhance optimal storage of medicines and medical products both at national and district levels. Assorted medical equipment including x-rays, oxygen concentrators, laboratory and other diagnostic equipment were procured and distributed to hospitals and Primary Health Units to support quality health services delivery. All district hospitals were provided with ambulances and utility vehicles. Blood Banks were established in all district hospitals to provide safe blood for transfusion. A school for training mid-wives was established in Makeni and we established a telemedicine center at Connaught Hospital.
Through the Strengthening of District Health Service Project, five new maternity wards, 21 PHUs, and staff accommodation were built or rehabilitated in Tonkolili, Bo, Bonthe, Port Loko and Kenema districts. In addition, the primary health care complex in Bo and the old maternity wards in Bo and Tonkolili were rehabilitated. All these health facilities are well furnished and fully equipped to help improve maternal and child health services. The construction of a Lassa fever prevention, control and treatment complex in Kenema started in July, 2012 and will be well furnished and fully equipped.
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