Freetown, June 04, 2015 (MOHS) – The Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah has addressed senior officials of his Ministry at a one day consultative meeting on how the Ministry can better position itself to coordinate the numerous players in the health sector so that Sierra Leoneans would for once begin to realise the benefits of the huge investments in the health sector coming into the country.
The high table R-L: Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo, Deputy Minister II, Madam Madina Rahman, Health Minister, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah, Permanent Secretary, Mr. David Banya, and Deputy Minister I, Mr. Foday Sawi Lahai
Addressing Directors, Programme Managers, and District Medical Officers at Hill Valley Hotel, the Minister said that despite reasonable investment in the health sector from both the government and health development partners, and the multitude of players in the sector, over a protracted period of time, Sierra Leone still has poor health outcomes. The fact of the matter is that we are simply not getting maximum value out of the investments and efforts in the health care system. Unless and until we do things differently, the situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
With the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak coming to an end, there will be a lot of goodwill from numerous partners coming along the way of the health sector. While this is a welcome development in itself, but the increase number of partners interested in the health sector also come with the added burden of coordinating them by the ministry for maximum results. The greatest threat to our success with the health recovery agenda is not going to come from shortage of partners or funds, but from the lack of our ability as a Ministry to utilize our constitutional authority to ensure proper coordination and alignment of these numerous players with our national priorities. When the centre cannot hold, things fall apart. This is what we are seeing.
The Health and Sanitation Minister share his vision of how he thinks the numerous players in the health sector can be better coordinated to ensure the people of this country derive maximum benefits from the huge investment on the health sector. The highlight of the Minister’s talk came when he announces the introduction of Service Level Agreements (SLA) between the Ministry and the health implementing partners. Through these SLAs, said the Minister, the ministry will be in a better position to know among the numerous health partners who does what, where and when. In this way there will be alignment of priorities of partners with national priorities, equitable distribution of health resources, and avoidance of duplication.
In a more firm posture, the Minister bade farewell to the days when health Implementing partners would chooses where in the country they want to go , what activity they want to implement, when they want to implement, refuse to account to the people of this country on whose behalf they solicit the funding and get away with all of these. “From now onwards, for the length of time NGOs have been digging toilets and water wells in this country, if there had been a monitoring and accountability framework of the type I am proposing today in place, every single health centre in this country would have by now boasting of some form of water source and a decent latrine”, sparking even more among more thunderous applauses. Buoyed by the tremendous show of support from his staff, the now embolden Minister went on to say, from now onwards, it is either going to be our way on no way amidst standing ovation with solidarity support.
During the interactive session, speaker after speaker lamented how this new deal approach is long overdue but that it is better later than never. They recounted how the lack of political will in the Ministry in the past have led to lot wastage of resources. They affirmed that with the new leadership in the Ministry and the new dynamism they have experienced, the country has every reason to begin to celebrate the dawn of a new health care system in the country. They pledge to throw their full weight behind the New Deal arrangement shared by the minister. They urged the minister to quickly complete the result and accountability framework that will accompany the service level agreement. They said this will be key to holding partners accountable.