His Excellency the President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma today (February 5, 2017) officially commissioned the rehabilitated/expanded Paediatric Ward and New Hospital and District Medical Stores at the Government Hospital in the Eastern provincial city of Kenema.
The project was initially launched on December 22, 2015 by Vice President Ambassador Dr Victor Bockarie Foh. The work is an EU-UNICEF MDG project valued at EUR 23 million.
The purpose of the project is to carry out the rehabilitation and expansion of 47 newly constructed and rehabilitated health structures across 11 districts nationwide. The work includes upgrading three health facilities to provide comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care (CEmONC) services in Bo, Kenema and Kabala. A further five facilities in Kurubonla, Tombodu, Konsho and Bumbuna have been upgraded to provide basic emergency obstetric and newborn care (BEmONC) services.
Delivering the keynote address, President Koroma said the journey to develop the country particularly the health sector has come a long way. He noted that all along the country has been fortunate to have its development partners to help get the job done. He recalled one of his visits to the Kenema hospital when he discovered that the state of the theater was in a bad shape.
"We have rolled this project in 11 districts and we have trained and provided facilities which would benefit over 1 million women and over 600,000 children," he said and went on to note; "I decided to go round to inaugurate these facilities because of the seriousness I attach to the health of our women and children," the president said, and added that the Ebola outbreak taught "us a lot of lessons".
He urged the people of Kenema to desist from any acts of arson, saying that such acts are wasteful to the government. "We will stop any further development of Kenema if we hear any more acts of arson in this district," he warned.
President Koroma therefore called on the people of Kenema to take ownership and responsibility of development projects in their district.
In his welcome statement, Mayor of Kenema City, J.S. Kelfala praised President Koroma for his expansion and transformation of the health sector, saying that the more government unleashes development, the more people ask for more.
The UNICEF Country Representative, Geoff Wiffin, assured of their commitment to support Sierra Leone's recovery efforts as well as in strengthening the country's health sector.
The European Union Commissioner, Peter Versteeg, said the event represents an important milestone in the transformation of Sierra Leone's health sector. He noted that the aim of the project is to reduce the number of women who die while giving birth as well as reducing the number of children who die in their infancy. "More than 1 million women and over 600, 000 children are direct beneficiaries of this program," he said.
The Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Zulaitu Cooper, in her remarks said that government has made tremendous efforts to make a turnaround in the health sector especially at the Kenema Government Hospital, saying that government has created the conducive environment for health workers and patients at the hospital.