By Alhaji Jalloh
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has on Saturday, 27th, July 2019, handed over ten trucks load of drugs and medical items to the health facilities in the North-Western region comprising Kambia, Karene, and Port Loko districts. The distribution exercise was done at the District Council office in Port Loko city.
The deployment of twelve medical personnel of various cadres ranging from medical doctors to nurses belonging to the Technical Aid Core from the Federal Republic of Nigeria who will serve in government hospitals in the aforementioned region was part of the event.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Prof. Alpha Tejan Wurie said the government is transforming the Port Loko Government Hospital into a regional hospital to be the main referral hospital for the entire region which is why concrete steps are being taken to upgrade its facilities.
The move, he said, is aimed at addressing the inadequate personnel challenge in the health sector for efficient service delivery. In light of the foregoing, the minister noted, they are in the process of recruiting 1,500 medical personnel (from January to June) whilst an additional 2,500 will be recruited between July and December this year, bringing the total to 4,000.
“The first batch of recruits cuts across Medical Doctors, State Registered Nurses (SRNs), Lab Technicians, and Community Health Nurses (CHOs),” he stated; adding that Health personnel who are not absorbed now are going to be trained further for one year in various specializations.
Professor Wurie said up to 1,500 NCCHS will be recruited from the second batch of 2,500 who will be distributed across the country mainly to their places of origin to serve their people. He said plans are afoot to bring in 150 to 200 medical personnel from Cuba to bolster the medical work force in the country, adding that the first batch of 80 medical personnel from Nigeria will arrive subsequently to be assigned to hospitals across the country.
From a 10% budget allocation to the health sector last year, the minister said the government is now going to pay 30% of the cost of free healthcare drugs and for the first time in seven years, since 2012, he said the government has started buying cost recovery drugs.
In addition to the trucks load of drugs and medical items, the Health Minister also distributed 8 motorbikes and twelve computers to the government hospitals in Port Loko city, Lungi, Kambia and Karene to enhance their operations.
Earlier, the Minister of Public and Political Affairs, Ambassador Foday Yumkella formally welcomed the Nigerian medical team on behalf of government and His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio.
He said Nigeria is playing the big brother role in Africa, citing the war era when Nigerian troops came and sacrificed their lives here for the country to have peace. “Today again you are here to help save
lives,” he noted.
The Resident Minister North-West Haja Isata Kamara highlighted the challenges faced by the health sector in that part of the country and pledged to vigorously monitor the distribution of the drugs and the other items to ensure equitable distribution to designated communities and beneficiaries.
The head of the National Medical Supply Agency which procures drugs on behalf of Ministries Departments and Agencies, properly stores and distributes them across the country, Dr Lawrence Sandy, said the North-West region will also receive a brand-new Toyota Land Cruiser that will be distributing the drugs to hospitals and PHUs (Public Health Units) in the three district.
He assured that henceforth, the Agency will be distributing drugs and medical items to hospitals nationwide every three months, noting that donor partners are very pleased with the performance of the Minister of Health and his team which is why they are now willing to give more support to the country to tackle its heath challenges.
Other speakers at the event were the District Medical Officer (DMO) Dr Mamoud Kamara, the Chairman Port Loko District Council I.S. Bangura, the Port Loko District Council Deputy Mayor Zachariah Bangura, and the head of the parliamentary oversight committee on health Hon. Moses Baimba Joacque, all of whom eloquently spoke to the issue of improving the health sector in the North-West region.