OPTIONS Consultancy Services Limited is one of the leading consultancy firms in the United Kingdom. It serves as a key service provider for the UKAID/DFID. Since its establishment in 1992, OPTIONS has evolved into a dynamic organization with a broad portfolio of work that includes over 900 health and social sector assignments in more than 50 countries.
OPTIONS provides technical and management expertise in the health and social sectors to a range of clients including international agencies, governments, the private sector, academic institutions, and civil society to support strengthening of health service delivery. OPTIONS’ work focuses on providing expertise in sexual and reproductive health, maternal, newborn and child health, HIV and AIDS, citizen voice and accountability, gender, social inclusion and equity, to strengthen pro-poor health system.
The organization commenced operations in Sierra Leone almost five years ago. Between 2010 and 2013, OPTIONS was the service provider for the DFID-funded RCH Programme; supporting the strengthening of the health systems to enable it to cope with the Free Health Care Initiative. During this project, OPTIONS supported both national and sub-national levels of health systems by embedding technical assistants to support.
OPTIONS Managing Director Jo Elms (extreme left) Hon. Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah, Country Director, MamaYe, Dr. Mohamed Yilla and Team Leader, PMEL, Dr. Oladipo Sotimehin
Working in collaboration with the Reproductive and Child Health Directorate in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, OPTIONS introduced and supported the quarterly Facility Improvement Teams assessment, an approach that monitors and enhances the compliance of facilities to provide emergency obstetric and newborn care. This approach, with the support of other partners, District Health Management Teams and Local Councils has significantly contributed in changing some of the designated health facilities towards quality service delivery for maternal and child health.
Two DFID-supported programmes are being managed by OPTIONS in Sierra Leone: the E4A/MamaYe and Partnerships Management Evaluation & Learning (PMEL) programmes.
MamaYe! Is a campaign initiated by Evidence for Action, a multi-year programme which aims to improve maternal and newborn survival in six countries (Ghana, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Tanzania, Ethopia and Nigeria) in sub-Saharan Africa. In Sierra Leone MamaYe works with partners to achieve Safe Clinics for mothers and babies by driving political will using a strategic combination of avidence, advocacy, and accountability to save lives. The PMEL function is to coordinate the activities of partners (UNFPA, UNICEF and MSSL) implementing the DFID funded “Improving Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health (IRMNU)” programme. This programme also supports the MOHS to provide the stewardship role for the IRMNH programme.
Both programmes PMEL and E4A supported the response efforts to curbing the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. In the recent recovery and resilient plans of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, OPTIONS staff were actively involved and supported the entire process of developing the plans.
As the recovery plans are being finalized and the country and its partners are striving to revamp and build a resilient health system, OPTION UK Managing Director, Mr. Jo Elms is on a week-long visit to Sierra Leone to engage key stakeholders in the Health and Sanitation Ministry and partners purposely to understand better the priorities of the Ministry in the Post Ebola recovery and areas OPTIONS expertise can be offered.
The Managing Director OPTION, Mr. Jo Elms during a courtesy call on the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah and senior officials of his Ministry at his Youyi Building office, said, said his visit aimed at engaging stakeholders to explore areas of possible assistance for both immediate and medium term plans in the Post Ebola period, and commended the Minister and team for the laudable strides in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease.
Welcoming his guest, Health and Sanitation Minister, Abu Bakarr Fofanah informed the visiting Managing Director that, as a country and people, they have managed to scale through the challenges in the outbreak with the overwhelming support from partners (DFID, UN agencies and NGOs including OPTIONS). The recovery process, he added is ongoing and the finalization of the plans near completion, to be shared soon.
“I am happy OPTIONS has a strong relationship with DFID-our key partners- we have enjoyed a perfect working relationship with OPTIONS over the years for which, I will welcome you to partner with us in strengthening the health systems”, opined Dr. Fofanah.
The Managing Director in another engagement met with the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo where he commended OPTIONS for their work over the years in the regular Facility Improvement Teams (FIT) assessments, and enumerated the five pillars on which the recovery and resilient plans are focused on. The Chief Medical Officer appealed to OPTIONS to consider the Essential Health Services Pillar for possible support.