September 22, 2010
By Razia Bash-Kamara , Presidential Staff Reporter :
Sharing the progress Sierra Leone has made towards the achievement of the MDGs and on the second outlook of the challenges faced going forward; President Ernest Bai Koroma noted that when the MDGs Agenda was launched, Sierra Leone was engulfed in a decade long civil conflict. This he said created an immense setback to human development and virtually crippled the economy adding that the end the civil war in 2002, left the State very weak and absent in many parts of the Country. The President maintained that the economy and financial management was left to focus largely on emerging and humanitarian activities.
During the time, the President said, human and economic development programmes were given relatively limited attention as social indicators were worse than pre-war levels. President Koroma reiterated that also at the time for the first decade of the MDG Agenda, Sierra Leone was going in the wrong direction. However, he stated on assumption of office in 2007, they have made considerable progress in consolidating peace and security focusing on consolidating democracy through the electoral process and by increasing transparency and accountability.
President Koroma admonished the Assembly that Government has demonstrated its commitments to stay the course of sustained macroeconomic stability and enhanced growth with prudent economic policies and wide ranging structural reforms through its Agenda for Change. He pointed out that the Agenda for Change articulates Government’s plans for the country’s development and prioritizes four strategic areas. On the area of doing business, the President intimated that it has significantly improved owing to an increased effort by government to address issues surrounding business environment and business climate reforms. He registered dismay over the poor status of the country’s infrastructure which is a major obstacle to private sector driven growth in Sierra Leone
Dilating on the free health initiative, the President said since its launch in April 2010, there has been an increase of over seventy percent in the institutional delivery and massive demand for health services by the targeted group. He noted that it is his fervent belief it will significantly improve the country’s maternal and child health indicators although illiteracy and poverty remain the two main factors negatively influencing achievement of other MDGs.
The President made it clear that if the MDGs are to be achieved by 2015, not only should the level of the investment be scaled up, innovative programmes and policies for enhanced economic and social transformation must be further developed and rapidly implemented. In that respect he maintained, they must continue to build strong collaborative partnerships between government agencies and development partners in development and implementation of programmes that significantly impact on human development.
President Koroma reiterated that the challenges to their achievement of the MDGs are immense, but building synergies represent the best hope for overcoming those challenges and meeting the aspirations for a better life that are embedded in the MDGs saying his country has received the MDG Award for showing leadership in combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases. This he emphasised shows that with sustained partnership, the leadership of Sierra Lerone could ensure the overcoming of many of many of MDG challenges the nation now faces.