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As part of its sustained commitment towards the implementation of the free healthcare initiative in the country, the Anti-Corruption Commission through its Southern regional office has on Friday 28th September 2012 organized a one-day workshop on the free healthcare initiative for the people of Pujehun district. The workshop attracted participants drawn from operatives of the health sector and beneficiaries of the free healthcare scheme including pregnant women and lactating mothers who were present with their suckling babies.
Welcoming the participants to the workshop the ACC Pujehun District Coordinating Officer Mr Alhajie Caulker expressed his thanks and appreciation for the large turnout and lauded the efforts of all medical practitioners who have tried in their own little way to provide efficient health delivery services in the Pujehun community. He said in his previous engagements with various stakeholders in the district he has emphasized the need to promote transparency and accountability in their work so as to avoid the wrath of the ACC which has a specific mandate to stamp out corruption in the country. He encouraged participants to make meaningful contributions in the workshop as their concerns, ideas and experiences in the implementation of the free healthcare scheme will assist government and her development partners to develop more cogent strategies to enhance the success of the initiative.
Speaking at the jam-packed hall, the Regional Manager of the ACC South, Mr Mohamed Dumbuya, who doubled as chairman of the occasion thanked the committed healthcare practitioners in Pujehun and informed participants that he was gratified for the welcome he received at the workshop. Mr Dumbuya however stressed that they were there for serious business as the free healthcare initiative was at the heart of the ACC and would not tolerate anybody to sabotage the process. He stressed the need for a solid collaboration between partners and beneficiaries of the scheme. Manager Dumbuya noted that at anytime the ACC intervened their thrust was to examine the implementation process, identify the successes and challenges and proffer the way forward. He said with the healthcare professionals at the workshop, they would engage in a spirited conversation on the free healthcare initiative in the Pujehun district and come up with the way forward for a better and productive free healthcare implementation scheme in the community.
Elaborating on the successes and challenges of the free healthcare initiative in the district, the newly appointed District Medical Officer, Pujehun District, Mr Mohamed Vandi lauded the efforts of government for the free healthcare program. He said the initiative has significantly reduced maternal deaths and infant mortality in most parts of the country. He said because of the scheme pregnant women now frequent hospitals and knowledge of family planning has scaled up. Dr Vandi however stressed that the project itself was expensive and we should find ways to sustain it since we cannot guarantee donor support forever. He also highlighted some of the constraints that largely have to do with the huge demand for the scheme as against the supply to beneficiaries; and also the budget that will have to accommodate the purchase of fuel, provision of electricity and equipment and the shortage of medical personnel among others.
Commenting on the interventions of ACC in the free healthcare initiative, the Public Education Officer, Mr Wilfred Bangura, noted that the commission has been very supportive in ensuring the success of the scheme through workshop initiatives like this, monitoring health facilities and investigating people who wish to derail the process of implementation. He maintained that for the free healthcare to succeed in Pujehun there should be a level playing field for all stakeholders and an open corridor for the exchange of ideas. Mr Bangura underscored the statements of previous speakers and stressed that to ensure the value for money transparency and accountability should be practiced by all stakeholders. He encouraged participants to highlight their experiences and to include the successes, challenges and the way forward in their deliberations.
Making a statement, the representative of Health for All Coalition, Ms Josephine Fatorma spoke lengthily about the intervention of her organisation in the free healthcare implementation. Ms Fatorma stressed on the challenges in the implementation of the scheme and highlighted issues of inadequacy of drugs supply, poor road network, lack of ambulance service, inadequate medical personnel and poor records management by nurses as some of the critical ones to note. She was however impressed with the huge success of the scheme particularly in the drastic reduction of maternal and infant mortalities in the country.
The workshop was climaxed by a plenary session where the participants were divided into groups and given the opportunity to highlight the challenges, successes and way forward in the implementation of the free healthcare initiative. This was followed by a vote of thanks delivered by a student of Holy Trinity Secondary School, Pujehun, Ms Rugiatu Barrie.
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