Freetown — Parliament last Wednesday unanimously passed into law the Sierra Leone Social Health Insurance Scheme (SLeSHI), a law that would assure affordable, timely and quality healthcare delivery for all and sundry across the country.
The passing into law of the SLeSHI bill was made possible by the commitment and diligence of a coordinating committee comprising National Coordinator Dr.Joseph Kamara, his deputy Cyril Jalloh, Actuary Ishmael Kanu, Director General of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), and the Ministries of Health and Labour.
Speaking to Concord Times at his Walpole Street Office in Freetown, National Coordinator of SLeSHI, Dr.Joseph Kamara expressed his delight and stated that: "It would be one of the best laws in Sierra Leone as it caters for the poor and vulnerable in society who cannot afford to pay for health services at the time of need."
The scheme is a multi-sectoral initiative geared towards enhancing healthcare delivery and saving people from the pains of experiencing Out of Pocket expenditure to access health service. The Sierra Leone Social Health Insurance Scheme would handle basic primary health issues including malaria - one of the killer diseases - typhoid, diarrhea, and a host of others. The scheme is a pro-poor and win-win arrangement in which every contributor stands to benefit a lot through access to timely and quality healthcare services.
According to Dr. Kamara, the scheme would graduate to handling secondary healthcare issues in future, adding that their focus for now is to provide basic primary health services for which people in the informal sector would be required to pay a minimal contribution of Le15,000.00, while those in the formal sector would pay more.
"It is a situation where even the poor would contribute for the poorest because it would ensure free medical for persons with disabilities and the aged," he said.
Although it took just a year for the initiative to be okayed by Parliament, Dr. Kamara said the uniqueness of their strategy in getting things done was that they were involved in numerous activities, including engagement with stakeholders across the country. "We make sure that we involve the authorities in every stage of the process. We had engaged members of parliament long before the bill was tabled for endorsement. Majority of Members of Parliament were fully educated and aware about the scheme, hence we had a smooth sail for it to be enacted as law.
"I also appreciate and commend the commitment of my colleagues in the coordinating committee, the Director General of NASSIT, the Technical Committee, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. We all worked together to ensure that the bill is passed into law by Parliament," he said.
He revealed they had nationwide consultations with key stakeholders across the country, adding that they had some arrangements with community radio stations across the country to educate and create awareness about the scheme.
With regards implementation, he said the scheme would be launched early next year before they commence full operations, expressing optimism that with the enthusiasm, commitment, team work and willingness of all parties involved, especially the coordinating committee which comprises mainly people of youthful age, they would be able to successfully impact the entire country.