That besides, the NGC in its 2018 manifesto indicated that Sierra Leone has one of the worst health care delivery systems in the world; ranking as one of the worst places to be born or to give birth, with a maternal mortality ratio of 1,165 per 100,000 live births and under 5 mortality rate of 156 per 1,000 live births.
The NGC 2018 Manifesto adds that Sierra Leoneans die from easily preventable diseases due largely to the absence of adequate diagnostic facilities, poor nursing care, sub-standard or fake drugs and the high cost of medical care.
It went on to state that a majority of the causes of illnesses in Sierra Leone are preventable with most deaths attributable to malaria, nutritional deficiencies, pneumonia, anemia and tuberculosis.
It added that diarrhea diseases and acute respiratory infections are also major causes of outpatient attendance and illness.
It stated however that most of the medical facilities are under-staffed and under-equipped and that there has been little or no improvement in the maternal and child mortality rates that were supposed to be affected by the free health care program, adding that this has been mainly due to corruption in the system.
According to the NGC 2018 manifesto, Sierra Leone has a health care delivery system that cannot boast of many of the basic facilities needed for effective health care and that there are no facilities for high level diagnostics such as MRI scanning, no oncology (cancer) unit, no cardiology unit, etc, adding that as a result, patients requiring anything more than basic diagnostics have to be taken abroad.
Among other things, the NGC 2018 Manifesto states that there is a severe shortage of qualified medical personnel, and very few specialists, most of who are based in the Western Area, while a considerable number of trained and qualified nurses remain unemployed. In addition to these factors, the existing hospitals are not efficiently run due to the over-centralization of the system and a Health Commission that is disempowered and side-lined. Basic necessities and amenities in the form of transportation and accommodation remain inadequate.
It further stated that in order to resolve the above issues, the NGC says in its manifesto that to develop a health care delivery system that is effective, safe and capable of providing good- quality personal and non-personal care to those that need it, when needed, with minimum waste; it will provide a nationwide health care system with emphasis on preventive health measures including improved nutrition and public health education and surveillance aimed at a drastic reduction in infant and maternal mortality rates as well as in communicable, non-communicable and lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, strokes and cancer.
To achieve its Goal, the NGC commits to: Deliver a universal health care system; Set up a sustainable healthcare financing system that optimizes all sources of health sector funding; Improve conditions of service for all health workers to enhance retention and attract those currently working abroad while providing a special incentive scheme for those in remote areas; Establish a centre of excellence for diagnostics and treatment at a strategic location in the country; Promote telemedicine by providing internet enabled communication in all hospitals to enable medical personnel to seek expert guidance and support from specialists across the country and abroad; Strengthen professional and regulatory bodies such as the Medical and Dental Association to make them become more functional; Improve Health Information Systems (HIS) for successful health sector planning and program design; Construct a state of the art teaching and referral hospital for training medical personnel, upgrade the medical school and support the Sierra Leone College of Health Specialists to ensure the proposed postgraduate training of health professionals takes off and is sustained; Empower the Sierra Leone Health Commission to take over the role of recruiting and posting medical personnel from the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Health respectively; Ensure that, as a matter of urgency, all qualified nurses that wish to, are absorbed into the national health service; and Restructure the Ministry of Health to ensure it focuses on policy formulation and oversight; Upgrade all tertiary, secondary and primary hospitals in the country to ensure they are properly staffed and have all the necessary equipment to carry out their work efficiently; Foster public-private partnerships for the provision of good quality diagnostic, paramedic and ambulance services; Ensure that the teaching hospital and all other hospitals in the country operate under independent management boards without interference from the Ministry; Empower the Pharmacy Board and the National Standards Bureau to combat the importation and sale of fake and substandard drugs in the country; Support research into the practice of traditional medicine and the efficacy of herbs and roots; and Strengthen the disease surveillance, outbreak preparedness and response capacity of the health system.