Bintumani, Freetown, Thursday 12 September 2019 – His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has launched the country’s health security plan and a roadmap for universal health coverage to make quality healthcare affordable and accessible for even the most vulnerable.
“So our National Action Plan for Health Security and The Road Map for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Sierra Leone are consistent with one of our key national priorities – healthcare. To our mind, quality healthcare is foundational to productivity and overall well-being. Healthy people are productive people. But poverty and the unaffordability of healthcare costs have led to otherwise preventable deaths,” he said.
President Bio noted that there could be innovative possibilities and models that they were open to as a government, including a publicly-financed insurance pool underwritten by a mix of beneficiary contribution and funds sourced from partners and possible reallocations or new tax or other public sources.
“The question, therefore, is not whether we can afford to invest in healthcare. We must, because as a nation we cannot afford the cost of not investing in healthcare and universal healthcare coverage. It is a down payment on a fairer, safer and more prosperous future for our people and our country,” he stated.
He emphasised that the secret to accelerated national development lay in educated, resourceful, well-fed, and healthy citizens. He added that the government’s human capital development agenda was anchored on three key interrelated staples: education, food security, and healthcare.
“A more educated population makes better healthcare decisions and a well-nourished population is more enterprising and more productive overall. We have an obligation as a country to widen the social safety net to every Sierra Leonean; we have a chance to provide quality and equitable access to healthcare for all Sierra Leoneans regardless of gender, ethnicity, area of origin, or social or economic class,” he said.
The President disclosed that as a Government, they had maintained a rights-based approach to healthcare as stated in the country’s constitution, adding that national policies were driven by the provision that “The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that— there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons, having due regard to the resources of the State.”
“My government believes that every Sierra Leonean has a right to access quality healthcare that is affordable and adequate for his or her needs. Our vision as a government aligns also with Sustainable Development Goal 3: ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages’ with our country’s specific focus on reducing maternal and child mortality; preventing epidemics, tropical, and communicable diseases; and, strengthening capacity and resilience in healthcare service delivery, while providing access and social protection for Sierra Leoneans across the social and economic spectrum”, he said.
Country Representative for the World Health Organisation, Evans Majani Liyosi, congratulated the government and the people of Sierra Leone for the launch of its health security plans, adding that epidemics and other public health emergencies were a big threat to global health security and the livelihood of people.
American Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Maria Elena Brewer, said that the progress made by Sierra Leone was a testament to the commitment of the country’s leadership, adding that the launch of the national action plans was a milestone that represented a robust commitment by all sectors of the government. She said that the plans would build and strengthen capacity to protect the country, its neighbours and the world from public health threats.
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, said that Sierra Leone was in readiness to combat any disease outbreak because of the massive improvements made in the health sector by the New Direction Government. He stated that the government was very much committed to improving public health service delivery. He commended donor partners for supporting the work of the government.
The documents aim to strengthen Sierra Leone’s capacity to prevent, detect and respond to adverse public health events and to facilitate achievement of global health security.
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