By Jonathan Abass Kamara and Kadrie Koroma
The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo has officially launched the First National Health Promotion Strategy of Sierra Leone 2017-2021 on Thursday February 16, 2017 at the Bintumani Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo launching the document
Launching the document, Dr. Brima Kargbo said the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone demonstrated the importance of health promotion in fostering a sense of community ownership and shared responsibility for the health of the population.
Post launching group photo
He reiterated that the process began under the guidance of the WHO in 2012, but despite the challenges of Ebola, the vision was not lost but strengthened.
Dr. Brima Kargbo opined that with support from USAID and the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative, including the input of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and multiple supporting partners, they would now have a strategy that outlines a clear vision to strengthen health promotion in Sierra Leone.
He noted that the Health Promotion Strategy outlines a plan for strengthening the capacity of the Health Education Division and change agents at all levels to enable them to raise the quality of Health Promotion and harmonize health promotion across the country
Dr. Kargbo observed that the five year plan addresses the operational and programmatic needs within the Health Ministry for Health Promotion to strengthen community ownership for health, in line with national Health Sector Recovery Plan 2015-2020, the blueprint in rebuilding the country’s health sector.
He noted that the strategy will contribute directly to the President’s Delivery Priorities for the health sector, and will raise the bar for higher quality health promotion across the country, and called on the health promotion supported communities to make changes in their cultural and social practices for the rapid adoption of behaviors to stop transmission of diseases.
The Chief Medical Officer lamented the recent deaths of six Sierra Leoneans, among them five medical officers who lost their lives due to Cardiovascular problem, pointing out that perhaps such catastrophy or tragedy would not have happened with the education on the life style of people through health promotion programmes.
The WHO Country Representative Dr. Anders Nordstrom described the National Health Promotion Strategy as a milestone for Sierra Leoneans and health development partners, adding that it would help build a resilient health system.
WHO Country Representative Dr. Anders Nordstrom
Describing it as a critical tool for community ownership and participation, Dr. Nordstrom noted that the strategy will also help raise awareness and education to promote a more healthy society, hoping that it would be implemented in schools, health clubs and other targeted areas in communities.
The WHO Representative stressed the need for health promotion to be integrated in all Programmes and Directorates in the Health Ministry, citing the TB and Malaria programmes among others. He added that as health promotion components it is also imperative to work with civil society organizations and other departments, agencies, by way of equipping people with the right knowledge and healthy policies through correct key messages.
Making his statement the USAID Health Advisor Saad El-Din Hussein Hassan observed that the document is the first in the country’s history of Health Promotion and will help in the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality if positively implemented.
USAID Health Advisor Saad El-Din Hussein Hassan
He spoke about the Ebola outbreak and how it has impacted the health system, building trust and confidence in health care from lessons learned.
The collaboration of his organization with the District Health Management Teams and central level he said is resourceful, and reiterated their commitment and continued support to the Ministry’s programmes.
The Country Director, Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3), Chime Catherine Mukwakwa said her organization is funded by USAID to contribute to government’s efforts to building trust in the health system in the aftermath of Ebola
Country Director, Health Communication Capacity Collaborative,
Chime Catherine Mukwakwa
She said at national level they work with Health Education Division to strengthen systems for health promotion and increase capacity to design, develop, and implement quality health promotion activities.
Madam Mukwakwa disclosed that some of the key activities they have supported to build Health Promotion capacity at all levels include a two week leadership in strategic health communication training for national level Health Education Division staff and all district level social mobilization coordinators.
A presentation on the background of the Health Promotion Strategy process by the Programme Manager, Health Education Division, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Mr. Lansana Conteh, and key statements by the Director of Policy, Planning and Information and Chairman for the occasion, Dr. Samuel Kargbo formed high point in the official launching ceremony.