Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Alpha Tejan Wurie says Sierra Leone has taken steps closer to meet the Universal Health Coverage through a joint External Evaluation (JEE) to assess the current National Preparedness for Disease Outbreak in the country.
He was speaking at the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva on the topic Universal Health Coverage wherein he reiterated that strategies have been put in place to address the identified gaps towards meeting the universal health coverage. He said all persons in the communities should be able to access preventive, curative rehabilitative and palliative Health Services of sufficient quality whilst ensuring that the use of these services does not expose them to Financial Hardship.
Dr. Wurie said the country had earlier gone through ten years of civil war in the nineties and was recently exposed to the worse Ebola epidemic in history followed by a devastating mudslide episode in August 2017.
These three events according to the Minister continue to suppress the economic growth of Sierra Leone and to the extent hinder the country’s outreach to deliver Universal Health Services.
Three concrete steps the minister said have been initiated towards the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) which includes the Free Health Care Initiative targeting health intervention for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five. The program according to Dr. Wurie is being widened to include other vulnerable groups such as the amputees as a consequence of the civil war and Survivors of the Ebola scourge to access Free Medical Care.
He disclosed that the program will be expanded in September to include all school children as the country continues to address challenges from the health sector which include the high-out of pocket expenditure for health services in 2017 for which the government of Sierra Leone enacted the Social Health Insurance Scheme as he maintained that the necessary structures are being put in place to start its implementation.
The Minister of Health and Sanitation thanked the International Partners including the World Health Organization, World Bank, Global Fund and advocate to re-align the existing projects to provide the requisite infrastructure equipment and provide encouragement.