By Jonathan Abass Kamara and Kadrie Koroma
The people of Bonthe District both in the main land and the island were the proud recipients of a new Ambulance speed boat through the support from the World Bank.
The brand new Ambulance Speed Boat moving towards the Jetty
The gesture which the people of Bonthe described as an invaluable treasure that came after a long journey is one of the World Bank’s funded projects-the “Reproduction and Child Health Project (MCHP2)”.
L-R: IPAU Programme Coordinator, Alpha Ibrahim Sesay making the official
handing over of the boat to the District Medical Officer, Dr. Kargbo Labor
Speaking at the handing over and commissioning ceremony at the Bonthe District Council hall and the Jetty Landing Site on Thursday July 14, 2016, the Integrated Project Administration Unit (IPAU) Programme Coordinator, Mr. Alpha Ibrahim Sesay said the procurement of the well-equipped Ambulance Speed Boat was done by IPAU of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for the Bonthe District Health Management Team which constitutes both the district and Municipal Councils.
The boat he said will be an added value to help increase the District Health Management Team Coverage and timely response to primary health care services for mostly pregnant women, lactating mothers, the under five children and other persons living in hard to reach riverine areas within Bonthe district.
He recalled in 2011 when they made an assessment mission with the World Bank and identified the difficulties and challenges in accessing health care services in the riverine areas and immediately made the request for the provision of the boat in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
Health professionals of MOHS, WHO and IPAU officials showing their admiration
during the inspection of the inside view of the well-equipped Ambulance boat
The provision of the Ambulance boat, Mr. Sesay told his audience was also made possible through the commitment of the government under the dynamic leadership of President Dr, Ernest Bai Koroma to provide accessible and affordable quality health care for his people and others living in Sierra Leone.
He strongly cautioned and warned that the boat should not be used for private purposes but to essentially provide services for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five as and when necessary.
Deputizing the World Bank Country Manager, the Senior Health Specialist and Task Team Leader for the RCH2 Programme, Dr. Mrs. Francisca Ayo Akala described the gesture as one catalyst that would help Sierra Leone in the fight against maternal and child mortality noting that the country has been rated with the worst maternal and child mortality indicator.
Dr. Mrs. Akala reiterated the World Bank’s commitment and continued support to the government and people of Sierra Leone, pointing out that it is necessary they help improve the health outcomes of our vulnerable women and children.
She noted the delays in accessing health facilities due to referral challenges, and implored the Authorities to ensure partnership with the Bank, the Council and the Health Ministry for the boat to operate for the intended purpose.
She re-emphasized the need to put in place a culture of maintenance and a system for routine services on the boat.
The Director, Planning, Policy and Information, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Samuel Kargbo described the event as an occasion worth celebrating, pointing out that it is a long journey that started in 2010 when President Koroma initiated the Free Health Care, taking in cognizance the challenges in accessing health care in geographical areas that are difficult to reach. This dream he added, has now come to reality for the people of Bonthe.
Making his remarks on behalf of the people of Bonthe District, Paramount Chief Alie Sheriff of Jong chiefdom lauded the government and the World Bank for the availability of the Ambulance boat which he said would minimize the incidence of maternal and child deaths in riverine areas.
He described the gesture as first in the history of Sierra Leone, and an event that would be written in the books for posterity as it is within the framework of President Koroma’s Agenda for Prosperity.
The Paramount Chief re-assured the government and the World Bank of the judicious use of the boat to ensure that it is utilize for the intended purpose.
Deputy Director, Local Government Finance Department, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Alpha Umaru Jalloh re-emphasized the need for both the Councils and the District Health Management Team to give the desired support as the boat is meant to respond to health services and not to attend meetings.
He said they would like to see a constituted management team for the successful running of the boat for the next fiscal financial year, pointing out that they would ensure the provision of special criteria for fiscal transfer of resources, and to identify sources of financing to operationalize the services of the boat.
Other speakers include the Acting Mayor, Councilor Bonthe Municipal Council, Bonthe Town, Daniel Saidu Bangalie and the Chief Administrator Bonthe District Council and Chairman for the occasion, Mr. Francis Tiffa.
Main highlight was the handing over of the Ambulance Speed Boat keys to the District Medical Officer, Dr. Kargbo Labor at the Jetty Landing Site.