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NEWS : Local News  

Health for All Coalition Holds Debate Against Medical Consultation Fees in Sierra Leone
By Bintu A Sesay
Feb 2, 2009, 00:24
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A network of civil society organizations in Sierra Leone, Health for all Coalition in collaboration with Save the Children Sierra Leone and Medicines San Frontier (MSF), on Friday 31st January 2009 held a one-day round table consultative conference against the imposition of consultation fees on patients, by medical practitioners across the country.

Speaking at the conference held at Country Lodge in Freetown, the National Coordinator of Health for all Coalition, Victor Lansana, informed that the Coalition serves as the mouthpiece for the people of Sierra Leone.

He noted that the main thrust is to enhance the creation of a platform through which the citizenry, especially the hardest hit, will access cheap and sustainable health care services.

He said the essence of the round table talk was to identify ways and means to achieve the Millennium Development Goals four (4) and five (5), which speak of infant and maternal mortality.

He said one of the factors that will help achieve this is to convince the Government to abolish all consultation and other extraordinary charges at hospitals, particularly those operated by the Government.

He said the existence of these charges has caused several patients to seek alternative medical treatments, rather than going to the hospital.

According to him, most people who have sought alternative treatments in the form of country medicine or what have you, have faced complications such as over dosing and sometimes death, adding that the best place for people to go when they fall ill is the hospital.

He said the United Nation Development Programme report for 2009 states that Sierra Leone is classed as One Hundred and Seventy-Ninth (179), due to these problems and their associated effects on health care delivery in the country.

Mr. Lansana assured that the Coalition will work hand in glove with the Government to see to it that all the bottlenecks regarding seeking treatments at hospital are removed, in order to guaranty equal access to medical attention.

He said this initiative was kick-started by the past Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) regime, pointing out that the essence is to ensure that patients are not unreasonably charged fees they just cant afford.

According to him, a hospital is supposed to be place where patients go and get their required medication and get well, and not a place to go to die.

He further maintained that the situation at the moment is such that patients are left to die at Government owned hospitals in particular, all because they fail to meet the hiking and sometimes unbearable demands by medical doctors.

He ended by stating that there is supposed to be a policy that permits suckling mothers and infants to get free medical treatment nationwide, and called on donors/humanitarian agencies and Government to put in place mechanisms that will make this policy available


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