Concord Times (Freetown)

4 July 2012

Sierra Leone: ACC Whips Up Support for Free Health Care

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
A patient holds her new born baby in a hospital ward in Freetown.

As a Way of Enhancing Effective Service Delivery in the Free Health Care Programme, the Anti-Corruption Commission (acc) Has Engaged Health Workers in Makeni. This Was in the Form of a Sensitization Meeting At the Acc Regional Office At Mena Hills On Monday 25th June 2012.

In his welcome address, ACC Regional Manager - North, Patrick Sandi, said the engagement was an educational and preventive drive aimed at addressing corruption issues in a bid to ensure effective and transparent health care service delivery.

He reminded them of their primary duty of saving lives and how corrupt practices can hinder the success of the Free Health Care programme and the improvement of health delivery system in Sierra Leone. Manager Sandi noted that it is the aim of the Commission to ensure that the Free Health Care programme is free from corruption and other hindrances.

Speaking on behalf of the Commission, the Director of Public Education and Outreach Department, Shollay Davies, said the health sector is one of the benchmarks in the PRSP and if Sierra Leone is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, they have to make sure the health delivery system is brought to speed.

He told the health workers that the Free Health Care scheme is very crucial to the ACC, which is why it is putting monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure its success. Director Davies lamented that one of the biggest threats to the scheme is the issue of transparency and accountability, citing lack of proper records in terms of utilization and delivery. He noted that no matter what government does in terms of drugs supply and distribution, if they do not go the right way, the Free Health Care programme would not succeed. "We stand the risk of losing the gains we have made in improving the lives of people if we fail to enhance transparency and accountability," he observed.

The Director of Public Education and Outreach said the ACC is not oblivious of the many challenges facing the health sector but noted that in the midst of all the challenges, it has a part to play as an institution to ensure effective health delivery system in the country. He disclosed that the Commission is working with other partners including Health For All Coalition in the area of monitoring. He called on the health workers to see the fight against corruption in the health sector as a collective responsibility which requires partnership.

In his statement, ACC prosecutor Abdul Rahman Mansaray Esq. explained some of the offences in the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act. He warned the nurses to stop asking for money from beneficiaries of the Free Health Care before administering treatment to them. He informed them that the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act covers everybody in Sierra Leone and therefore warned them to deliver service in conformity with the law.

Making their contributions, the health workers highlighted various challenges in the implementation of the programme such as: frequent shortage of drugs in the health facilities, late distribution of the drugs, misuse of drugs by patients, shortage of staff, and stakeholders' participation and commitment.

They called for sufficient human resource, logistics in terms of drugs, transportation and electricity. They promised to abide by the warnings and support the Free Health Care programme.

Questions, comments, concerns and suggestions formed part of the meeting.

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