Sierra Leone will celebrate its independence anniversary with delight and hope for a bright and prosperous future as the President of Sierra Leone has secured for his country a massive medical assistance program from strategic partners worth $7 million. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has reasons to celebrate the country’s independence in style as on April 27, which is the country’s independence day, he will launch a free health care program for pregnant women and children under five. In about a month’s time, the president will launch an ambitious plan to provide free health care to breast-feeding and pregnant women and children under five. The Head of state’s desire is to reduce maternal and child mortality rates in the country. The President had recognised the need for personal intervention as he embarked on discussing ways to alleviate the suffering of his people, who lacked sufficient medical facilities and supplies, with partners like the African Governance Initiative (AGI) the brainchild of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the UN’s Children’s Emergency Fund, along with Britain’s Department For International Development, the (DFID).
President Koroma knew that the lack of essential drugs to keep pregnant women and young children healthy had been a major hurdle to providing comprehensive care for his people. One cannot over-emphasise the importance of people in the country to achieve free health care, especially those who are vulnerable like children under five. According to UNICEF, the supplies are in line with the national essential drugs and it is a list which has been put together in consultation with all the stakeholders in support of the government. The list covers medical diseases like diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia and all the basic diseases that people face in their daily lives. UNICEF has intimated that the drugs will also address conditions such as diabetes and hypertension that put pregnant women at risk for complications during pregnancy
This is indeed a remarkable achievement by President Koroma as it demonstrates the support the British Department for International Development is providing his government by funding the procurement of the drug stockpile. This is part of a $51 million support for the Sierra Leone government that the president has been able to secure from the DFID, to enable a free health care initiative for the most needy in his country. The president must be commended for his steadfastness and at the same time reminded that the road to complete social and economic recovery is still a challenging one that he must approach with diligence, resolve and determination to succeed.
UNICEF will distribute the drugs directly from the port to district health units, which will then supply rural health facilities. The drugs are expected to last for six months but the head of state is fully aware of the need to secure further assistance along with his partners to continue to address the medical deficiency the country’s health sector is currently facing.
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