By Hassan Bruz
Northern Bureau Chief
This is the question that became a parrot-cry in the City of Port Loko, after the keynote address of the Health and Sanitation Minister – Professor Alpha Tejan Wurrie at the Conference Hall of the Port Loko District Council. It was an Occasion marking the symbolic handing over of a Consignment of Free Health Care Drugs to the District – an opportunity the Minister used to catalogue some of the key achievements and Development Plans of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party [SLPP] led Government. Most People were unable to develop an appropriate answer when the Minister posed the question for them to tell which is which. The People could not tell for a fact whether it is indeed a ‘do and talk or a talk and do’ affair. All they maintained is that His Excellency – President Julius Madaa Bio has often been referred to as a ‘Talk and Do President. It implies that he is a President who goes the extra mile in making sure that what he promised Sierra Leoneans in his Manifesto is fulfilled. But it appeared that notion is gradually shifting to what Professor Alpha Tejan Wurrie described to be a ‘Do and talk’ thing while stressing the need for self-esteem, pride and integrity. He said the Government of President Bio now prefers to surprise People by doing things that were not in his promise to the Nation.
This was substantiated by the Health and Sanitation Minister during the symbolic presentation of a full Consignment of Uniform, Shoes Delivery Beds and Protective Equipment for onward delivery to all the categories of Health Service Givers in the District of Port Loko. The Package was in addition to a total of 7 fully loaded Trucks of Free Health Care Drugs. Even though People were yearning for the Free Health Care Drugs, it did not occur in their thinking that Uniform, Shoes and over One Hundred Delivery Beds were included in the Package. It was on that backdrop that the Minister said he did not let the Beneficiaries know simply because he wanted to deliver the Items first before he could talk on that. It was on the same vain he went further to disclose several other projects the Government has slated for implementation in the District, Region and the Country at large. He said apart from the fact that Port Loko is the first City outside the Western Area; it is also the closest Regional Headquarters to the National Capital of Freetown. The Health and Sanitation Minister said, these are outstanding virtues which qualifies Port Loko to have a Tertiary Hospital. The Minister said Port Loko should therefore have a modern Hospital with room for Accidents, Emergencies and Intensive Care Units. He said it is in anticipation of such status that 2 Project Proposals have already been written for those Facilities to be fully Operational against 2021.
Professor Alpha Tejan Wurrie disclosed that plans were now at an advance stage for the construction of a School of Nursing and Midwifery. He said that would be separate to the lots and lots of Pharmacies Government has planned to construct so that there would be one Pharmacy in each Chiefdom. He said even the Maternal and Child Health Aides Courses will be upgraded for Graduates to become Skilled Birth Attendants. He said the now defunct School of Clinical Sciences in Makeni will also be reactivated shortly. The Minister was accorded a thunderous round of applause with what appears to be the SLPP’s victory song – ‘Madda Biooooo, Madaa Bio aaaaa’, when he analyzed how prepared President Bio’s Government is, to commence the construction of the Diagnostic and Cancer Treatment Hospital. He said the Hospital is estimated at 19. 8 Million United States Dollars. He said Government is required to pay a deposit of 20 percent and that the amount to effect the payment of the deposit is now at hand. He explained how it is money accumulated from what the Anti-Corruption Commission has retrieved from People found guilty of corrupt practices. He however emphasized the need for the formation of Hospital Wards and Chiefdom Health Management Committees to ensure effective monitoring mechanisms.
Earlier in his contributions, the Minster of Political and Public Affairs – Ambassador Foday Yumkella spoke of President Bio’s determination to transform a positive change in the Country especially in the Health Sector which he noted, is the main reason why Professor Alpha Tejan Wurrie was brought in as the Health and Sanitation Minister. He said the Government has plans to construct a modern and functional Mortuary Facility at every Hospital in the Country. Similar sentiments were expressed by the Resident Minister for the North West Region – Haja Isata Abdulai Kamara who confessed that Port Loko has been favored by the President Bio led Government with regards Health, Education and Electricity Supplies. She cited the Free Quality Education and the newly constructed First Secondary School for Girls in Port Loko City. She therefore urged the Local Authorities to monitor the distribution process of the Packages especially the Drugs so that the Materials will not go the wrong way. The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Health observed that, there used to be some delay in the supply of Free Health Care Drugs which has the potential to dampen the achievement of the desired goal. Both Dr. Philip Kargbo who chaired the Ceremony and Dr. Sandy separately submitted that they were there to fulfill a promise the President made and that the Consignment comprised a full Package of COVID – 19 Response Equipment adding that another supply will be made available within 3 months.
The Chiefdom Speaker of Bekehloko – Mr. Mallapy Tarawali informed the Minister and Entourage that the Supplies are most times not sufficient for the number of Peripheral Health Units in the District and appealed for an increase in subsequent supplies. The Mayor of Port Loko City – His Worship, Abu Bakarr Kamara commended the untiring efforts of the Health Service Givers and all those involved in the Corona Virus fight. While assuring that the Materials will be transparently distributed and judiciously utilized, he said Port Loko is yet free from any Community Infection of the Pandemic, regardless the fact that it is the City where the first set of Quarantined Homes were established. The Port Loko District Health Sister – Fatmata Bayoh in her vote of thanks, appealed for the Health Workers to be included as Beneficiaries in the Free Health Care Drugs, noting that it remains very much challenging especially when a Staff Member goes for Surgical Operations.