Freetown, April 29, 014 (SLENA) – The Commonwealth Secretariat and Public Health England in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has commenced a two-day workshop to discuss the future of Public Health in Sierra Leone at the Country Lodge, Hill Station in Freetown.
The purpose of the workshop is to develop public health capacity in Sierra Leone which focuses on developing a strategic frame work for public health for the next five to ten years, including the foundation of a National Public Health Institute.
Addressing participants, Health and Sanitation Minister, Madam Miatta Kargbo called for concerted efforts of NGOs and other partners to articulate a sound public health structures in Sierra Leone that would help enhance the future of public health in the country.
MS. MIATTA KARGBO
Madam Kargbo noted that the programme focuses on developing a strategic frame work for a National Public Health Institute and to support the ongoing review of the Sierra Leone Public Health Act of 1964, revised in 2004.
She underscored the importance of the Commonwealth Laboratory Twining Pilot between Sierra Leone and Public Health England Laboratories and the Oral Public Health programme in Sierra Leone, hoping to see a credible and resourceful partnership with a sound foundation.
The issue of Public Health, the Minister reiterated, is within the key pillars of the Ministry’s programme and looks forward to a well coordinated approach noting the challenges ahead.
She described the working conditions of her doctors as very challenging and expressed gratitude and appreciation to Public Health England and the Commonwealth for their support towards achieving the Ministry’s goal.
Making her remarks, Head of Health, Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Magna Aidoo, said the response by the country for the development of a National Institute will go a long way in addressing the needs of public health in Sierra Leone and lauded the Government of Sierra Leone and the Health Ministry for hosting the workshop which the Commonwealth Secretariat and Public Health England deeply appreciate.
She highlighted the various programmes supported to member states by the Commonwealth which included developing a National Health Policy and Strategies, providing the platform for countries to come together to learn from each other as they develop and review their National Policies with a view to addressing health challenges like HIV/AIDS, Non-Communicable chronic diseases and Maternal and Child Health among others.
Aidoo told participants that the Commonwealth Secretariat recognizes the importance of public health infrastructure and capabilities that are key to understanding disease patterns, devising strategies for prevention and surveillance noting that the spread of disease has no boundaries.
The Commonwealth Health Head maintained that to deal with the challenges on prevention and control, and treatment of diseases, requires commitment and called for the concerted efforts of all resources to achieve the desired goal.
The Consultant in Public Health Strategy (Global Health) Public Health England, Dr. Mark Salter described the event as the begining of one journey that would make the different in the future of public health in Sierra Leone.
He maintained his optimism, noting the caliber of participants drawn from the various programmes of the Ministry.
The Chief Medical Officer and Chairman for the occasion, Dr. Brima Kargbo spoke of the poor human development indicators affecting Sierra Leone’s growth and development, adding that the development of public health with increased awareness and education would make the difference.
He said discussions over the years with the Ministry’s Disease Prevention and Control Directorate, and the Dental Department on Oral Health sets the road map on how the establishment of a Public Health Institute in Sierra Leone could help.
Presentations on the Revised Public Health Act of 1964, priorities for Sierra Leone’s Public Health Law, Introduction to the current public health system in Sierra Leone, and the vision for Sierra Leone formed part of the event.