L.A.W.Y.E.R.S notes that the government of Sierra Leone took a significant step on the 27th of April 2010, Independence Day, to reverse the "dismal maternal figures in Sierra Leone" and comply with its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The health of women especially maternal and infant mortality is crucial in any democratic society. Women are custodians of our future. The 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone provides that one of the fundamental principles of state policy is that "the state shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons, having due regard to the resources of the state".
L.A.W.Y.E.R.S therefore advocates that the free health care system be properly utilized, maintained and continued inorder to secure the future of Sierra Leone.
L.A.W.Y.E.R.S urges the government to ensure that proper modalities are put in place to ensure the smooth running of the free health care system. The Government must address all problems encountered since the inception of the free health care by comparing and learning from countries that have successfully implemented free health care system for children under 5, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Under CEDAW of which Sierra Leone is a party Article 5(b) states that;
"States parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that family education includes a proper understanding of maternity as a social function and the recognition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children, it being understood that the interest of the children is the primordial consideration in all cases".
Article 12 (1) of CEDAW particularly provides that there should be no discrimination against women in the field of health care and access to health care services, including those related to family planning.
Article 12 (2) provides "that state parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy".
Furthermore Article 14(2) (b) requires that the Government must ensure that rural women have access to adequate health care facilities, including information, counseling and services in family planning.
L.A.W.Y.E.R.S commends the Government of Sierra Leone for improving the quality of maternal and infant health care in Sierra Leone in order to avoid preventable deaths.
L.A.W.Y.E.R.S appeals to all government officials charged with the responsibility to carry out and deliver free health care to be diligent in their duties. The Doctors, Nurses, Midwives and other government health care providers must ensure that the drugs provided are protected and equitably distributed so that every Sierra Leonean pregnant or lactating mother and children under 5 will benefit.
L.A.W.Y.E.R.S requests that the police ensure that they charge and speedily prosecute any individual male or female who sells or deals with drugs illegally.
L.A.W.Y.E.R.S urges all women to embrace the health care system and desist from abusing the system so that other women and children will benefit.
L.A.W.Y.E.R.S calls on all family members, husbands/partners, uncles, aunties, nephews, sisters, brothers, to be guardians of the system so that their respective families do not abuse the free health care system. It is the constitutional duty of every citizen as provided in section 13 (c) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone "to protect and preserve public property". Section 13(f) provides that "every citizen must make positive and useful contributions to the advancement, progress, and wellbeing of the community, wherever he resides;"
Dated the 27th day of May 2010.
LEGAL ACCESS THROUGH WOMEN YEARNING FOR EQUALITY RIGHTS AND
SOCIAL JUSTICE (L.A.W.Y.E.R.S.)
11 PERCIVAL STREET, FREETOWN
TEL: +232 (0)76 860291