His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has officially opened the new King Harman Maternal and Child Hospital at Brookfields, which will largely cater for the west of Freetown and ease pressure on ‘Cottage Hospital’ in the east.
The new hospital was constructed by the Government of Sierra Leone in partnership with the United Nations Food Programme, UNFPA with funds from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, DfID, under the Saving Lives Programme.
Country Representative for the UNFPA, Dr Kim Dickson, said she was honoured to witness the official commissioning of the newly constructed Maternal and Child Health Hospital, adding that President Bio’s presence for the ceremony was a show of his commitment to transforming the health infrastructure and healthcare delivery systems in the country. She called on the hospital management to take good care of the facilities and ensure their proper functionality.
British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Simon Mustard, said he was happy that the strong partnership between the Government of Sierra Leone and the UK was built on shared history and deep connections. He said he was excited that the partnership had led to the commissioning of that facility, adding that on a daily basis the hospital would protect and save the lives of mothers and their infants.
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, said that the event was the start to getting a reliable and efficient health sector that would be capable of providing quality healthcare delivery to the people of Sierra Leone. He commended the President for the gains achieved so far in the health sector, saying that 2020 would see a turnaround for the health sector.
In his keynote address, President Julius Maada Bio recalled that in his maiden address to the State Opening of the Fifth Parliament, he stated that the strategic objective of the health sector in the New Direction was to transform the under-resourced, ill-equipped, dysfunctional and inadequate health infrastructure and healthcare delivery and make it high quality, efficient, reliable, cost-effective, affordable and sustainable.
“The thrust of this New Direction Government is increasing access to quality health services for all the population, particularly mothers, children and the elderly. Today marks another milestone in the delivery of my promise to the people of Sierra Leone. I feel so gratified to commission the King Harman Maternal and Child Hospital as a Center of Excellence for the delivery of quality healthcare services.
“This Government has made significant contributions to improving our health sector. We have tackled head-on the gross inadequate human resource in health by increasing the present number of health staff by 4,000. We have increased the national budget allocation to health from 8.9 to 11.6%,” he said.
President Bio also said that to address delays in accessing quality healthcare in health facilities, his government had commissioned and operationalised the National Emergency Medical Services in all districts in the country with over 4,000 referrals to date. He said he was committed to improving diagnostic capacity, adding that the government had allocated budget to establish the National Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Center.
He stated that his government had made tremendous progress in its strides to create an effective and efficient health system that met the needs of citizens and provided compassionate and high-quality care. He noted that despite the efforts, there was much to be done to prevent people from dying from preventable and treatable diseases.
“The importance of investments in quality care and patient safety is portrayed by government’s commitment to improving the status of our hospitals across the country. We have invested in and will continue to invest in constructing and equipping new hospitals across the country. One of such is this King Harman Hospital, which provides secondary level care to the people of this community and its environs,” he said.
He also commended the DfID for providing the support to construct and equip a new hospital as the old one exceeded its capacity. He mentioned that the Ministry of Health and Sanitation would provide the staff and the required training and coaching on quality improvement in maternal, new-born and child health to ensure the hospital fulfilled its mandate.