By Jonathan Abass Kamara
The unemployment rate in Sierra Leone has been a concern to the government and civil society groups. The Youth Ministry in its current strategy has created the roadmap for vocational and skills work, encouraging the youths to build their capacity in this direction. The Ministry of Health in building its human resource capacity annually produce a good number of nurses and midwives but still a challenge in getting them into the civil service.
This time it is the National Emergency Medical Service (NEMS) that has come to provide job opportunity for the jobless. A service that is first in the history of health care in Sierra Leone.
In a nationwide sensitization by the Minister of Health and Sanitation early this year bringing Paramount Chiefs, District and the City Councils, Civil Society and District Medical Officers together in a consultative forum for the historic provision of a National Emergency Medical Services (NEMS), to be commonly known as National Ambulance Serbice and the Expanded Sanitary Inspection Compliance and Enforcement (ESICOME) about its importance in building an effective health system and the provision of jobs at district and chiefdom level have now come to pass.
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation NEMS and ESICOME programmes which is about to kick off soon would not only create jobs for unemployed trained and qualified nurses, ambulance drivers and paramedics but would also help to strengthen the referral system in all districts thereby providing the environment for the reduction of maternal and child morbidity and mortality as well as the disease burden and deaths associated with unsanitary and bad hygiene practices.
There are 149 chiefdoms in the country and plans according to sources are to make available a National Ambulance Service that would serve the district headquarter towns and chiefdoms in an integrated approach.
Those fortunate and qualified ones that would meet the criteria for employment would be recruited in their places of origin. That is one good thing about the proposed ambulance service because people to be employed are those conversant with their terrain; speak the common language the people understand to make communication between the patient, the relatives and health care providers or workers smooth sailing. The recruitment will importantly give Paramount Chiefs and the Councils their due respect in the process, and the control, and management of the services as required by health professionals or the Health and Sanitation Ministry.
The Health and Sanitation Minister, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah and his professional head, the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo have in recent times signed a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with partners and NGOs working in specific districts to ensure that there is no duplication of efforts in service delivery and are poised to working in close collaboration with District Medical Officers, the Councils, Civil Society and partners including Paramount Chiefs to achieve the Ministry’s vision in providing quality affordable and accessible health care for the citizens of the country and others living in Sierra Leone, and to ensure that strategies now put in place are in line with the President’s 10-24 Months Recovery priorities.
Those that would be fortunate to get the positions advertised it is with optimism I see them with commitment, professionalism and dedication to service. Remember, Ambulance Drivers have been charged to court and fined for professional misconduct.