Health Ministry Poised to Establish Sierra Leone Centre for Disease Control/National Institute for Public Health

Freetown, Sept. 7, 2015 (MOHS) – Plans are currently under way for the establishment of a National Public Health Institute in Sierra Leone.

CDCCross section of participants

The President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma earlier reiterated earlier his commitment to the setting up of a Public Health Agency that would improve the health of the population and response to future public health threats.

Addressing health experts at the opening ceremony of a two day Strategic planning Workshop on strengthening public health systems in Sierra Leone on Monday September 7, 2015 at the Hill Station Country Lodge Conference Hall in Freetown, Health and Sanitation Minister, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah noted the participation of experts across the globe in pursuit of better health for the lives of the Sierra Leone population.

CDC1Health and Sanitation Minister, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah making the keynote address

He said the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone is a lesson to acknowledge the absence of a strong and resilient health system from the rest of the globe that may easily become an epidemic threat to globe health security.

The Ebola virus disease outbreak Dr. Fofanah reiterated has also proved that the world has become a global village in reality, given the ease with which the disease crosses international boundaries. “Strengthening global health systems and maintaining global security has therefore become a collective responsibility requiring global solidarity”, opined the Minister. He noted the collective efforts in many fronts to strengthen economic ties between countries, and the tremendous opportunity presented by the Ebola outbreak to transform the future of not only Sierra Leone but the world at large.

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has shown that no country is immune to outbreaks and crises, noting that other countries throughout the world that continue to be affected by recurring epidemics and major public health events.

Optimizing the International Health Regulation and its implementation Dr. Fofanah said is a critical step for reducing the impact of emerging other public health emergencies of international concern. Sierra Leone, the Minister furthered continues to count on the support of partners to continue to provide technical expertise to implement International Health Regulations in the frame work of Sierra Leone Centre for Disease Control.

Commenting on the initiative, Dr. Fofanah said since its planning aimed at strengthening the event based surveillance as well as building capacity to respond to public health emergencies of the continent among other activities, Sierra Leone also count on the support of its partners to provide technical expertise and assistance using existing norms, standards and tools and other innovative mechanisms to ensure success.

Sierra Leone, the Minister reiterated is committed to provide the political and country leadership that is key to the successful implementation of the Sierra Leone Centre for Disease Control and National Institute of Public Health, work with partners to strengthen national, regional and sub-regional district capacities to be well prepared to prevent, detect and to respond to health security risks and emergencies.

The American Ambassador to Sierra Leone, John Hoover reiterated his government’s support to the initiative, adding that he is optimistic that after the two day workshop the experience with the Ebola response will serve to strengthen all public health functions in the country, and help heighten the country’s awareness of health issues among the people of Sierra Leone.

CDC2US Ambassador John Hoover

Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Zhoa Yanbo said the need for the establishment of a National Public Health System is timely to mobilize and coordinate activities to strengthen human resource capacity. “We are going to a new stage as how to help Sierra Leone with its recovery plan, and committed to intensify our assistance”, Ambassador Yanbo.

CDC3Chinese Ambassador Zhoa Yanbo

In a similar vein the UK Representative Marshall Elliot observed that Sierra Leone before the outbreak was struggling with its health care system to meet the MDGs, indicating the clear need to provide support to the new initiative and its 6-9 months recovery programme.

CDC4Chief Medical Officer and Chairman for the occasion, Dr. Brima Kargbo

The meeting which was chaired by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo attracted participants from CDC China, Public Health England, US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, WHO and the Secretariat of the International Association of National Public Health Institute (IANPHI), Emory University.

JAK/KK/MOHS