By Kadrie Koroma
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has concluded a Regional Advocacy and Sensitization meeting for Paramount Chiefs on scaling up health interventions in Makeni, Bo and Kenema respectively.
Speaking on the theme: “Let’s work together towards good health and well-being for all” in Makeni, Prof. Alpha Tejan Wurie underscored the importance of the meeting, stating that the purpose of the meeting is to empower traditional leaders with knowledge on cost effective interventions used in preventing and controlling diseases and conditions of public health importance and scaling up of these interventions at chiefdom and community levels.
He informed his audience that in order to contribute towards the achievement of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Global Health Security outcomes, it is vital and important to engaged Paramount Chiefs across the country.
Prof. Alpha Wurie reiterated that Paramount Chiefs in Sierra Leone play an important role in maintaining law and order at chiefdom level, adding that there is need to empower them with sound and accurate information on health to enable them pass on the information to their subjects. He added that it has been proven that top leadership and commitment at community level are paramount in building and sustaining actions to defeat the prevailing health problems in Sierra Leone.
The Health Minister maintained that the concern for women and children is high on government’s Governance Agenda and is committed to continue to work with health development partners to improve the health and well-being of the people thereby making the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality. He added that government is also committed to the control of malaria, HIV, TB and other priority diseases and conditions and reducing maternal and child illnesses and deaths in Sierra Leone.
He described the meeting as a step in the right direction to boost the health sector with Paramount Chiefs to scale up quality health service delivery at both community and chiefdom levels.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Amb. Tamba Lamina described the meeting as a family meeting to discuss, suggest, knowledge gained and in turn implement in their various chiefdoms for an improve health care delivery system.
He appealed to them to use their various channel of communications to spread information with a view to creating impact to enhance quality health care.
Giving the objectives and expected results of the meeting, the Director of Disease Prevention and Control, Dr. Samuel Juana Smith said it is to intensify awareness on health-related issues, facilitate and disseminate information widely to galvanize action to achieve the National Sector Strategic Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
He said it is to make recommendations to strengthen community engagement and strengthened health service delivery at chiefdom and community levels.
Speaking in Bo at the Regional meeting, Health Minister, Prof. Alpha Wurie assured Paramount Chiefs that the Ministry will establish Community Health Centres, Community Health Posts and Maternal and Child Health Posts in every chiefdom to provide specialize health care services to the people.
He said they will ensure that traditional leaders act to reduce the incidence of communicable diseases including malaria, maternal mortality, teenage pregnancy and to support and monitor the free health care services and National Emergency Service.
Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Amb. Foday Yumkella described the collaboration between the Health Ministry and Paramount Chiefs as a laudable venture to change the mindset of the community not only on health issues but nation building.
He commended Paramount Chiefs for attending the stakeholders meeting and admonished them to spread the knowledge gained to their various chiefdoms for effective and efficient service delivery in their community.
In Kenema, the Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Anthony Augustine Sandi commended Paramount Chiefs for their cooperation as it will go a long way in the fight against diseases and conditions of public health importance.
Highlights of the meeting include pledges by the Paramount Chiefs to support and monitor the Ministry’s initiative, while other stakeholders maintained that the meeting is timely and relevant as the partnership will help improve the health and well-being of the people of Sierra Leone.