The workshop was organized by the Directorate of Human Resources for Health of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation with support from its technical partners.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Health on the theme: “Building a Resilient Health Workforce”, the Director of Human Resources for Health, Mr. Emile Koroma disclosed that the workshop is to find ways on how issues around poor condition of services are addressed, adding that as Directorate of Human Resources they have been consistent and regular in terms of approach to addressing welfare issues affecting health workers.
He described the workshop as momentous and historic, hoping that participants will give it their fullest support and make sure they provide invaluable inputs in other to strengthen the document.
Mr. Emile Koroma reiterated that in addressing the wider issues around poor conditions of service, the Directorate still fills that these attempt and approach will provide them to impact a sense of direction regarding the welfare of staff.
He said it is no doubt that there are challenges in the Ministry of Health in terms of retaining the health workers in remote or rural areas, adding that as a Ministry and the Directorate they will look at the specific challenges and address them amicably.
The Director of Human Resources for Health informed his audience that 60 percent of the population in Sierra Leone resides in the rural areas and 40 percent in the urban areas, but yet they have a many health workers distributed in these areas. He added that the 60 percent of the population residing in the rural areas are served by 40 percent of the health workforce and 60 percent of the health workforce now served the 40 percent of the urban population.
A representative of the technical assistance, Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Silvestre Suh, who spoke on behalf of GIZ and the German Government, said the workshop will be a great opportunity to bring together efforts to see that health workers live and work in the most remote areas of Sierra Leone where they have huge part of the population.
He hoped that participants and the commitment by the government will help the document go through because at the end of the day they want to see an action plan that would inform interventions on how to retain health workers in the rural area.
The District Medical Officer Western Urban, Dr. Brima Osaio Kamara said nurses have been posted in hard to reach areas and difficult terrains like Tambaka to work, adding that for them to retain these nurses by motivating them to work in the hard to reach areas is a step in the right direction.
The President of the Sierra Leone Health Workers’ Union, Abdul Kamara said health workers are posted in hard to reach areas to work and are not provided with the required logistics, but at the end of the day when the health worker decided not to report for duty on time, the Ministry frowned at them and institutes disciplinary action.
He stated that the workshop will serve as a means to find ways of improving the lives of health workers so that when they are posted, they will be provided motivation.
The Registrar, Nurses and Midwives Board, Christiana Massally said the Board regulates and monitor more than 50 percent of the health workforce in the country, and assured of her support for the improvement of health worker in the country.
Presentation of the Draft Document and group work formed the high point of the workshop.
Similar workshops were held in Kenema, Bo, Bombali and Port Loko districts.