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Ministry to Equip PCMH for Free Emergency Treatment in Sierra Leone
By Kef Dukulay
Dec 1, 2008, 12:46
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The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Soccoh Kabia has on Thursday 27th November 2008 announced that his ministry will soon put modalities in place to equip the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital otherwise known as Cottage with medicines and equipment for the treatment of pregnancy-related emergencies at free of cost.

The reason for this move, according to the minister is to curtail the high prevalence of maternal and child mortality rates that continue to stay Sierra Leones position at the bottom of UN development index. "Too many people are dying in the country because of lack of proper medical care as most of them do not access this facility for lack of money," Dr.Kabia noted. He said the development is part of a policy change at the countrys largest maternity referral.

Though he could not give the exact date the new policy would be implemented, he however made it clear that government was very concerned to improve the health status of pregnant women as life givers for which the process would be expedited. "Maternal mortality is very high in Sierra Leone. One in eight women dies during childbirth," he said, adding that according to hospital statistics about 144 patients have died at the hospital so far this year.

He opined that his ministry would go at length to reverse that ugly trend. "We have changed from the old system to a new system", Kabia said. "We need to do more to improve the health sector and this is the time we are going to start it".

Dr. Kabia said the deal will focus on improving the blood bank service, proper regulation of private practices within the hospital, including the establishment of other modern facilities. It would also include free ambulance services for labour patients. The most important aspect of the policy would be the restriction on doctors and nurses to desist from selling drugs to this sect of people as the ministry according to him, in collaboration with other partners they would make sure that drugs are available for treatments.

Consultations have already been made with hospital staff, though they are reportedly not happy with the new policies. For them, their primary concern is to improve on their conditions of service before talking of giving free treatment to patients at the hospital.

The doctors allege that poor conditions of service are the underlying causes of the countrys health system. Some claim that they have worked for months without salary. The minister noted these concerns and said the ministry would soon address the problem of conditions of service. "The ministry is working to see that all factors that impede health situation are addressed, he pointed out.

Besides conditions of service, ministry is concerned with the lack of trained staff at the hospital. "Lack of coordination and job-descriptions might also be contributing to the problems at PCMH," a ministry official noted. He said most often pregnant women do not go to the hospital right away, which compounds the problem at times. They only hope that with a free ambulance service and the proposed free emergency treatment, women would be encouraged to come to the hospital for treatment. This policy is to be extended to other parts of the country in the shortest possible time according to the minister.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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