Executive members of the Health Reporters Network Sierra Leone (HRN-SL) held a fruitful discussion with Sierra Leone Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr. Austin Demby at his Youyi Building Office in Freetown.
The meeting was for HRN-SL to acquaint themselves with the minister and for them to chart the way forward for better reporting on health as the media have the tools to do so.
HRN-SL National Coordinator, Swaliho Vandi pointed out that HRN-SL yearning to see the right message been taken to the people but that can be achieve through effective collaboration with the ministry.
He emphasised that HRN-SL is a non-profit making media organization that promotes health issues in the country and with the mission of reaching out to every community in Sierra Leone with key health and safety messages that will positively change their behaviour and lives as well as report health issues affecting them.
Swaliho informed the minister about HRN-SL plans for the annual national health festival and the opening of a Trust Fund Account for health journalists to specifically report emergencies and outbreaks while commending media houses managers and editors for their support to health journalists to cover health stories under limited resources.
“The trust fund account will support our members mainly media practitioners to undertake investigative assignments across the country that are gears towards promoting the health sector.”
He asked the consent of the minister to do the official launch of the trust fund.
The Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr. Austin Demby said he was very happy to receive HRN-SL and also in the readiness to partner with them with the Network. He shared his dreams and described Public Health as one that has a capital P in it which is a symbol of partnership between the provider and the recipients.
Dr. Demby while supporting the need of the Health Reporters Trust Fund spoke about the need for HRN-SL to collaborate with the ministry to organise the National Health Award come April 2023 as the first award ceremony has served as a motivating factor to all those individuals and institutions who are contributing to Sierra Leone’s health sector to do more.
He spoke about the 5-point strategy for reducing maternal mortality from 717/100k live births to 300/100k by 2025.
These strategies are: 1. Reducing Teenage Pregnancy (currently accounting for 14% of all MM – sexuality education and FP Commodities). 2. Improved Access to Quality Primary Health Care, (1,500 PHUs, community workers, blood, pregnancy App). 3. Improve Ambulance Service (Re-capitalisation, digitisation, decentralised maintenance and fuel supply). 4. Improved Secondary and Tertiary care services for complications (infrastructure, higher OB Care, blood service, equipment, HRH, drugs). 5. Realtime Granular Data (national/provincial/district/chiefdom/ward/locality).
He went on to say the foundation for effective delivery of the life stages model will comprise trained and responsive health workforce, functional ambulance service, supply chain system, equipment, infrastructure and maintenance, research, data and information system, health security and drug and regulation.
All the above he added will be based on strong leadership, partnership and collaboration.