President Ernest Bai Koroma has disclosed that he has instructed the Office of the National Security and the Police to investigate whether generators supplied to the District Medical Hospitals country wide have disappeared or used otherwise. He made this disclosure during another summoned meeting of major Health Stakeholders across the country today at State House. The Head of State also warned that a full investigation will be mounted of the 6% of drugs leakages and that heads will roll according. The meeting made up of major Stakeholders included the Vice President, Mayors, Head of Councils, Resident Ministers of the East and South, top Ministry of Health Officials, Officials from Finance and the Minister and his Deputy of Local Government and Minister of Health.
Addressing the well attended meeting President Ernest Bai Koroma informed that the meeting is centered on enhancing the effectiveness of the Free Health Care (FHC) service. Government he noted has made great successes due to the fact that the programe has impacted on children, pregnant women and children under 5 years and thus seen marked reduction in the mortality rate. “We have to focus on addressing the challenges and servicing the personnel as long as the project continues, to ensure that the drugs delivery is made efficient from the Ports to the Medical Stores to the Districts Offices and to the Public Health Units” He said. President Koroma informed that an action Plan has been put forward by UNICEF and agreed by government, adding that an aspect of that responsibility has been devolved to the Councils. “The success of this programme depended on how you handle your own aspect at your location. This time it is agreed you take full responsibility” He cautioned.
President Koroma strongly warned that “if anything goes wrong within, criminality included at your area of responsibility, you will bear the full cost” The FHC he intimated is a great service to every Sierra Leonean with support from our Donor Partners. “If anybody has to pay a cost of connivance or criminality, so be it. My government will not compromised” He stressed. Speaking the Health Minister Zainab Bangura disclosed that it is just 6% of the drugs that were unaccounted for instead of the speculated 25% and blamed Bo and the western Area for mostly being responsible. She said strategies have now being put in place to secure the drugs from the Ports unto their final destination (PHU). According to the Minister UNICEF has now taken up the course to take the drugs from the Ports to their various destinations. “Before the drugs leaves Freetown we will send a distribution list to all Mayors and Head of Councils, who must in return ensure that on receiving the drugs they be cross –checked and signed for” She advised.
Councils she said must ensure that all the generators provided for the districts are present on site because the drugs must be kept under certain temperature. She again informed that hence, a receipt must be issued for all drugs given out in each hospital country wide and that each hospital selling Cost Recovery Drugs, must have a finance officer and not an Health Officer. ‘All FHC drugs given out should be accompanied with a receipt marked free on it” She strongly directed. According to the Minister, each District Officer must have a distribution list of all PHUs that drugs are sent to. She pointed out that the Ministry big problem is the safety of the drugs from the Districts to the PHUs and that 355 of the PHUs have not being daily signing the forms and giving accurate consumption figures.“I cannot monitor the 1,270 PHUs across the country therefore we must work as a team” She said.
Giving a reaction to what the President and Minister has said, Vice President Sam Sumana said his focus is centered on the districts along our borders. He called on them to be patriotic and ensure the effectiveness of the distribution of the drugs, focusing on the President’s Agenda. Ambassador Dauda Kamara of Local government said the ministry of Health and Education are two key Ministries to the FHC and called for an Inter Ministerial Meeting between the Health Ministry, vice President and his Ministry to discuss pressing Health Issues. Amid Fofana of Portloko District Council assured the President on behalf of his Council that they will adhere to the Action Plan for the success of the PHU. Financial Secretary Edmond Koroma disclosed that each Council is given one billion plus leones and there is no need for the Councils to Charge anybody for the maintenance of generators and the buying of fuel. He disclosed that an impact survey will start in July to ensure that monies disbursed to the Councils are well accounted for. Dr Daoh pledged to support the initiative of the FHC. Civil Society, Charles Mambu thanked the President for this new strategy and called for electricity to be supplied to the hospitals at least for 10 hours and for a data base of all PHUs.
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