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Monday, February 6, 2023

Free healthcare cushioned

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Free healthcare cushioned


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“Most of the mistakes in maternal child health are mostly communications gap. Therefore, proper messages have now been developed to address these issues,” he said, adding that the project was not just about communication but also about facility delivery and communality engagement.

He further noted that they equally would need political support for the success of such a project.

The ‘HC Three’ coordinator for Western Urban and Western Rural districts, Peter Koroma, said they were in partnership with the John Hopkins University, America’s first private research university and a world leader in research and education in medicine, public health, the arts, sciences, and engineering.

He said they also were partnering with the ministry of health and sanitation, Gold and Search for Common Grounds with support from the United States Agency for International Development.  

Korma said they had developed campaign messages for ‘a healthy mother’ and ‘a healthy baby’ to attend clinic at least four times and encourage delivery in clinic for safe delivery.

The HC Three promotes the message that “the first visit should be done in the first three months of pregnancy, second in the first six months of pregnancy the third in the first eight months of pregnancy and the last nine months, including any other time when she is in pain”.

Many observers said that the launch of the Free Health Care Initiative in Sierra Leone in 2009 with funds from the British government and some other international partners constituted a leap forward and inspired hope in people.

The document announcing the health scheme by government described the initiative, which was a strategy to remove all charges at health facilities for pregnant and lactating women and children under five years, as “a longer term vision of a universal access to quality health care for all vulnerable groups”.

According to government reports at the time more women were able to access antenatal care, delivered at the facilities and access post-natal care in the first year of the initiative.

However, two years after the scheme was launched the global rights group, Amnesty International released a report ‘At a Crossroads: Sierra Leone’s Free Healthcare Initiative’ on the challenges.

Rajat Khosla, Amnesty International’s health policy co-ordinator said: “The move from policy to tangible change for people using the health service has been difficult. While the government has tried to address some of the underlying and systemic problems, others remain un-examined and un-addressed”.

The report stated: “Women and girls reported two significant problems with the FHCI: either drugs or other essential medical supplies are simply not available at the health facilities, or they are charged for medicines and care that are supposed to be provided for free. Often, when essential drugs for women in pregnancy and childbirth are not available for free, they are available for a price – in the same facility – as “cost recovery” drugs”.

The reasons for those problems, they argued, were generally known: firstly, it was clear that drugs and medical supplies leaked and secondly, the system for procurement and management of drugs was complex and often poorly managed.

“In examining why these problems persist it is clear that the lack of an effective system for monitoring and accountability are central challenges. While the problems are broadly known amongst health care workers and government officials, the lack of any effective monitoring system means that there is very little chance of specific instances being identified and addressed. Moreover, the scale and nature of the problem are not clear. Effective monitoring is needed to identify the points of weakness in the system”.

Amnesty International called on government to strengthen and establish systems of monitoring and accountability to ensure healthcare interventions were accessible to women and girls, and to guarantee their access to effective remedies for violations of their human rights.

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