By Mohamed Massaquoi PRO MoHS
It was a memorable occasion at the Port Loko City Council Hall last Friday when the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Prof. Alpha Tejan Wurie and his entourage stormed the North Western District Headquarter town of Port Loko with the much needed Free Healthcare drugs, uniforms for nurses and doctors, delivery beds for pregnant women and other assorted items for health workers in that part of the country.
The distribution of these essential commodities came at a time Government is strongly focusing on the fight against the dreaded coronavirus pandemic.
Communities have been a bit skeptical whether Government would strengthen the free healthcare scheme which to them has been very useful.
Residents of Port Loko expressed their gratitude to President Julius Maada Bio and the Minister of Health Prof. Wurie for their continuous support and commitments towards the development of their newly created region.
Seven trucks loaded with PPEs, hand sanitizers, uniforms for nurses and doctors, one hundred delivery beds for pregnant women, drugs worth millions of Leones were safely delivered by the National Medical Supplies Agency.
These items were handed over to the Resident Minister North Western Region, Madam Haja Issata Abdulai Kamara for the people of Port Loko.
Since 2018, the Government of President Bio has been providing resources for the procurement of free health care drugs.
In his statement Prof. Wurie told the gathering that the previous government introduced the free healthcare scheme in Sierra Leone but heavily relied on donor partners especially DFID to buy the drugs but the new administration has made serious commitments towards free healthcare in Sierra Leone adding that Government was expected to chip in 50% internal support for the year 2020, but the plan was completely disturbed as a result of the Corona outbreak.
“When President Maada Bio came into governance he decided to focus on health workers as part of his human capital development strategy and so he instructed me to have additional health workers at the ministry, this process is ongoing.
Additionally, we are to employ more 4000 health personnel.
The president also said that health workers should be well catered for and so government has increased salaries for health workers, only recently, the president launched the health insurance scheme for frontline workers who are fighting the corona pandemic, these are all packages put together for our health personnel.
Today we are here to handover the free healthcare drugs but more importantly, uniforms for our nurses including doctors,” he said.”
The Minister further noted that Government is also providing beadings for all government hospitals and PHUs to ensure proper sanitation.
“The uniforms are meant for you to be identified for the good work you are doing in your respective communities; we want you to feel proud of what you are doing because I have told the president that the current workforce at the Ministry of Health will be a force for good.
“I am pleased to inform you that president has given me the authority to procure Cost Recovery drugs and the procurement process is ongoing now,’’ he said and urged health practitioners to make better use of the facility.
Managing Director of the National Medical Supplies Agency, Dr. Laurence Sandi said as an agency of government, they are charged with the responsibility of distributing the free health care commodities adding that the drugs distributed are of high quality.
He said few months ago, they were in Port Loko to distribute another set of items but however promised the people that government has made a faithful promise that the free healthcare drug will be distributed after every three months.
“I want to assure you all that this process will continue, we have got enough PPEs and other protective items for health workers and all of these items will be surely given to you,” he said.
The Resident Minister, North West Madam Haja Issata Abdulai Kamara thanked President Bio for fulfilling his promise to health workers.
She said the Port Loko District Medical Team has been working harder to fight against COVID 19, adding that president Bio has focused on education, health and quality electricity supply to Port Loko district which are fundamental to human development.
“I want to thank the Minister of Health for the impact he has created in the health sector since his appointment. I want to urge all traditional leaders, civil society and members of the public to monitor the utilization of these items especially the free health care drugs.
I which to have got this facility during my tender age but our children are blessed to have got a President that cares for his people,” she concluded.