Beverly Collins, a health policy adviser at the International Medical Aid Organisation Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) has hailed Sierra Leone’s President Koroma’s decision to introduce free health care for pregnant women and children under five in his country as an ‘extreme important development’. According to the health professional, “It is hugely encouraging and quite brave that the President has taken this step because the country is just pulling herself out of quite horrific circumstances” Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children all over the country will benefit from this initiative taken by the Sierra Leone leader with support from international stakeholders like the UK’s DFID.
The first initiative of the new health reform was launched in November last year in London where former Prime Minister Tony Blair was a special guest of honour and one of the chief launchers. It is a new effort at bringing long term succour to the nation’s citizens after a bold recovery from a long war which had completely depleted all social amenities and initiatives in the aftermath of a 10-year old war while retarding social health development at all cadres of the country. Efforts have been intensified by the government to spread the scheme around the country as some areas are inaccessible because of infrastructural issues. But the Head of State is determined that all underserviced constituencies in the country should become beneficiaries of this important step to help introduce free health care in the country
Already, President Koroma has received the Africa Peace Award in South Africa on behalf of his country. Presenting the 7th Africa Peace Award to President Koroma, Mrs Graca Machel, Chairperson of the ACCORD Board of Trustees outlined why the nation had been selected for the award and highlighted their achievements in moving from civil war to peace. “We say well done Sierra Leone because you proved it is possible to bring peace in our continent, because you were able to become a shining example which we believe will inspire other countries, so that in Africa peace will come to rest, to stay,” said Mrs Machel. The remarkable efforts of this Head of State in attempting to lift his people out of poverty is indeed worthy of commendation.
In accepting the esteemed award on behalf of his countrymen, President Koroma congratulated all Sierra Leoneans for “the resilience, candor and dedicated commitment to the attainment of lasting peace and democracy in our country”. He also thanked South Africa for the continuous support towards sustaining peace and development. “Our expression of gratitude will not be complete if I fail to pay a special tribute to the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) for its foresight in conceiving and actualising this laudable venture aimed at promoting peace, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law in our continent,” said President Koroma.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Jean Ping praised the people of Sierra Leone. “We are all aware of the history of Sierra Leone; what it has achieved in conflict resolution, peace-building and development in a short space of time is remarkable, and exemplary. We salute them! Your experience shall remain as an inspiration to all Africans that, no matter what our challenges are; peace is achievable,” said Jean Ping
Closing the ceremony, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa gave a celebratory toast to the West African nation. “Allow me to congratulate the people of Sierra Leone on their solid achievements in putting their country on a trajectory of peace, security and development. Allow me to also recommit the Government and People of South Africa in a partnership with the Government and People of Sierra Leone, to guarantee a better life for all our people.
Because of the hard work and commitment of its president Sierra Leone stands as a shining example of good governance and democracy. A county in motion as the sky becomes the only limit.
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