Political party manifesto wahala!! APC: Free Care for Old People SLPP: Better Life for Disabled

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According to the APC 2018 Manifesto, it will provide free health care to the elderly, physically challenged, Ebola orphans and other vulnerable groups if it is voted to power on March 7, 2018.

In a section inside the manifesto titled: Moving Forward with Healthcare and Sanitation, it states that “the APC government introduced the Free Health Care Initiative in 2010 particularly targeting lactating mothers and children under the age of 5; upgraded the country’s health infrastructure; vastly increased health services personnel and increased access to health services in all districts; received the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) award for the leadership Sierra Leone is showing in combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.”

According to the manifesto, “The APC recognizes that “Health is Wealth,” adding that, the next APC administration “will be committed to deliver affordable, equitable and easily accessible healthcare for all.”

It goes on to say: In the next 5 years, the new APC administration will build on these achievements and expand and prioritize the Free Health Care Initiative and strive to overcome its existing challenges; Intensify all interventions aimed at significantly lowering maternal and infant mortality rates; Establish the National Universal Health Insurance Scheme; Build and strengthen the capacity of regional hospitals nation-wide; Build District Hospitals in the new Districts and community health units in all the new de-amalgamated chiefdom headquarter towns; Scale-up Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) in all communities; Provide free health care to the elderly, physically challenged, Ebola orphans and other vulnerable groups; Scale up disease prevention strategies and improve access to curative and emergency services through vigorous human resources and health infrastructure development; Improve human resource capacity through local and international training opportunities; Expand postgraduate medical training in the country; Expedite the issuance of PIN codes for qualified medical personnel; Enhance the capacity of regulatory agencies such as the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association, the Sierra Leone Pharmaceutical Board and others; Adopt a modernized strategy towards drugs procurement including the establishment of a preferred pharmacy network; Establish the national ambulance service that is fully operational in all districts and chiefdoms in the country; Establish and maintain effective environmental and sanitation programmes targeting waste management nationwide; Introduce sanitation programs emphasizing on preventative healthcare using a mix of policy and incentives to encourage private sector investments in the development of healthcare facilities, including hospitals and related services.”

The SLPP 2018 Manifesto on the other hand states under a section titled ‘Protecting Persons Living with Disability and our Aged’ that, the most disadvantaged group in Sierra Leone is the physically challenged.

It adds that about 1.1% of the population is physically challenged or live with disability and that this includes mainly the blind, deaf, polio persons and amputees.

According to the SLPP 2018 Manifesto situation analysis, the major challenges the physically challenged persons face include limited access to food, shelter, clothing, jobs, education and health care. It adds: “They also face the problem of negative public attitude towards them in many instances. Their coping strategies include begging to earn a living and sleeping in public places. They are also marginalized in public life.”

According to the SLPP 2018 Manifesto, the aged are another disadvantaged group in Sierra Leone, adding that, social security is weak, and as a result, the aged are generally cared for by their children. It added however that with a drop in real income and growing hardship, very little is provided for them. “They too can be seen on the streets begging for basic survival,” the SLPP 2018 Manifesto stated.

It accused the APC government of failing to address the plights of physically challenged persons. “Although the last Parliament enacted the Disability Bill, no concrete action was taken by this Government to provide basic services to persons living with disability or even implement the provisions of the Act. To date, the basic structures for implementing the Act are weak. Government budgetary allocation is low and actual disbursements are not regular. Additionally, support by NGOs is limited and restricted to provincial capitals.

It goes on to state that, “Public buildings and roads including schools and health facilities are not disability-friendly. Persons living with disabilities face frequent discrimination in public transport and even in renting private accommodation. Accessing maternity services is also another challenge this disadvantaged group face. Basic materials and equipment that can enhance capacity such as Braille and white sticks and canes are inadequate.”

According to the SLPP 2018 Manifesto, “Conditions in major institutions such as the School for the Blind have worsened. In 2007, the APC inherited from the last SLPP administration, a Social Safety Net Programme that provided cash assistance to the most vulnerable and the aged. The APC misappropriated the residual funds, politicized the management of the scheme and employed negative discriminatory practices in its administration and implementation.” In order to change this, the SLPP says that in its ‘New Direction’ it will, Review and implement policies and laws relating to disability, especially making public facilities disability-friendly; Revisit the administration and implementation of the Social Safety Net Programme; Provide free education for the physically challenged at all levels: pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary level; Review and improve incentives for Teachers in Special Needs Institutions; Provide free health care for the physically challenged and the aged; Increase access of persons living with disability and aged to public housing; Provide welfare assistance to persons living with disability and the aged and provide livelihood support to persons living with disability for economic empowerment.”

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Abu Bakarr Tarawally is a Journalist based in Freetown. He works for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer. He has once served as Editor for a few newspapers in Freetown, including Sierra Express Media, The Exclusive Newspaper and his own newspaper, the Daily Express Publications. He is a teacher trainer, and loves writing and reading a lot. Email: abstarawally@gmail.com. Call +232 88601277 or +2327661303.

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