He opined that the two projects were carefully designed to reflect the wider government agenda of addressing maternal and child health issues as well as building a strong and resilient health system from the experience gained from the Ebola disease outbreak.
The Minister reiterated that the project are evidenced based, drawing from lessons learnt in recent times as well as incorporating what he referred to as the best features of proven cost-effective interventions from around the world.
He added that at the end of the Ebola outbreak every single project developed with the World Bank including the newly launched two projects has what he referred to as “Zero Dollar” component, and makes provision for unforeseen health emergencies. The ‘Zero Dollar’ components in the two new projects he said, emanates from past experiences, adding that from now onwards they no longer need to go through a lengthy reprogramming exercise to access funds in the course of the implementation of both projects.
Dilating on the resourceful partnership with the World Bank, Dr. Fofanah said together they were able to develop a number of flagship programmes: the School of Clinical Sciences, the Emergency Medical Services Project, the Post-graduate Medical Training linked with the University Teaching Hospitals Complex, the Service Level Agreement and the Expanded Sanitary Inspection Compliance Monitoring Enforcement Programme, and the District Capacity Strengthening project designed to develop the capacity of our health system delivery mechanisms at the decentralized level to deliver better quality services.
The three sub-components of the project the Minister said includes the Community Health Workers which aimed at training, monitoring, and deployment of 5,000 workers in hard to reach areas, the Multi – Disciplinary Clinical Team, foreign and local combined that aims at leveraging the expertise of foreign medical team with a view to temporarily address the human resource gap left behind by the Ebola, and support towards the operational of the District Health Management Teams.
Commenting on progress made, Dr. Fofanah disclosed the deployment of 43 Medical Doctors, four Radiographers and four Laboratory Scientists nationwide. This additional number he said will improve the number of practising doctors in the public sector from the current 148 to 191, and leads to an improvement in the doctors to hospital bed ratio in the country from the current value of one doctor to 21 hospital beds to one doctor to 16 hospital beds. He expressed optimism that the improvement in these indices would translate to better health outcomes for Sierra Leone in the years ahead.
Other highlights include progress on the School Board of Directors for School of Clinical Sciences, Post-graduate Medical Training, first in the history of Sierra Leone to support specialist medical training locally, the enactment of the Teaching Hospital Complex and Post-graduate Council Acts by Parliament, the National Ambulance Service among others.
The Minister on behalf of the President, the government and people of Sierra Leone thanked the World Bank Team and the entire Health Ministry and other stakeholders for the support.
Representing the World Bank Management Team, Acting World Bank Country Manager, Mr. Sheikh Sesay said the two projects were funded to suit the needs of the country, describing it as a start of a new phase that should be focused on results.
He reiterated their being very critical, and the need to translate them positively according to international standard, adding that the projects are quality essential health services for the poor vulnerable women and children of Sierra Leone.
Mr. Sesay expressed concern over repeated investment and duplication of efforts, retention and capacity building of clinical staff for health system strengthening, and reiterated the World Bank’s continued support to partner with the Ministry, other relevant stakeholders and the government of Sierra Leone.
The Deputy Minister II, Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Mr. Lovell Chandi Thomas said the launch of the two projects emerged from the lessons learnt from the Ebola outbreak which caught them unaware.
He told the audience that a major disease outbreak of any type, human or animal can have serious socio-economic consequences which, at their extreme may affect the national economy as was evident in the case of the Ebola virus disease.
Mr. Thomas reiterated that planning for emergency disease eradication or control programmes cannot be left until a disease outbreak has occurred, noting the intense pressure from the politicians and the general public for immediate action.
The Deputy Agriculture Minister thanked all partners both local and international who stood by them and continue to stand by them in their fight to make Sierra Leone a better place to live.
Deputy Chief of Mission, US Mission, Sierra Leone, Laurie Meininger described the launching as a new projects being implemented to strengthen the nation’s health through multi-sectoral collaboration.
She said such collaboration clearly improves the government of Sierra Leone’s capacity to meet international health regulations, the global health security agenda milestone, and enables the development of a One Health platform to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreak, strengthen systems in human and animal health and improve overall service delivery.
The Deputy Chief of Mission expressed the US Government’s appreciation of their partnership with the government of Sierra Leone and her people and the $300 million that the US Government has invested in Sierra Leone to support the emergency response and in health service recovery and systems strengthening to promote health security in Sierra Leone and abroad.
She reiterated their continued commitment to support the multi-sectoral collaboration, robust surveillance systems, an integrated Health laboratory network, a sensitive and responsive emergency system and management of public health concerns among others.
Madam Meininger congratulated the government of Sierra Leone on the accomplishments made to end the Ebola crisis and to move from crisis to improving the health care system and to be better prepared for emergencies.
Chaired by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo, other highlights of the programme includes statements from the WHO Country Representative Dr. Anders Nordstrom, Senior Health Policy Advisor, DFID Sierra Leone, Rachel Arrundale and several presentations on the two projects by the Director of Planning, Policy and Information, Dr. Samuel Kargbo, Director of Disease Prevention and Control, Dr. Foday Daffae, Director of Hospitals and Laboratory Services, Dr. Matt Lebby and the District Medical Officer Western Urban Dr. Thomas Samba, chaired by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer 1, Dr. Sarian Kamara.