By Amadu Femoh Sesay :
Information Officer-Cabinet Secretariat –
The Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, Dr. Ernest Sahid Alie Surrur and the Deputy Director of Budget in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Tasima Jah were on Friday 2nd May taken on a conducted tour of the Emergency Surgical Centre facilities at Goderich to examine the request by the hospital for increase of government’s contribution for the running of the Centre.
Dr. Surrur (2nd from left) listens to a nurse in the Children’s Ward
Dr. Surrur said the government of Sierra Leone is very much aware of the assistance the hospital is giving to the country particularly as it pertains to saving lives of the citizens, including children. He acknowledged the fact that if it were not for the Emergency Hospital the death rate recorded in this country would have been astronomical especially emergency cases including sicknesses and diseases affecting children such as chronic malaria, malnutrition, diarrhea, anaemia etc. The Head of the Civil Service said he was very impressed with the free medical services given to the populace and said it was in consonance with the Agenda for Prosperity.
The Secretary to the Cabinet observed that according to statistics from the hospital, the number of cases is increasing almost on a daily basis with an average of about 120 babies daily. He noted that it is the responsibility of the government to take care of its citizens and agreed that it was necessary for government to increase its support to the running of the hospital because of the large number of cases dealt with and the good work it is doing in the country.
Dr. Surrur maintained that the more support government gives to the hospital the more the assurance that the services will be provided to its people on a timely basis.
He observed that a huge amount of the fund from government is used to buy fuel for the generators to ensure constant electricity within the facilities. Dr. Surrur said it was necessary for the hospital to be connected to the national power grid to reduce their fuel cost.
The Head of the Civil Service noted that the Emergency Hospital has created jobs for Sierra Leoneans and continues to build their capacities in their various areas of specialization. He therefore expressed government’s commitment and continued support to the Centre.
The Emergency Medical Coordinator, Luca Rolla disclosed that 120 children with different cases visit the hospital every day. He said a total of 29, 000 children are treated by the hospital every year for various ailments using modern technology and machines. Mr. Rolla said they also give medical attention and drugs to children that are not admitted at the hospital.
The Medical Coordinator said they have applied for government’s contribution towards the running of the hospital stating that they are yet to receive a written commitment from the government. Mr. Rolla said they requested the sum of 400, 000 Euros which represents less than 15% of the budget for running the Centre yearly as government’s contribution. He said the Emergency Hospital spends almost Three Million Euros every year.
The Medical Coordinator observed that the Emergency Hospital has been paying the same price for fuel as business companies since 2012. He expressed concern that the hospital which provides free services to the nation should not pay the same price for fuel like profit making institutions. He said in January this year, he discussed the matter with the Minister of Finance and asked for duty free concession but said the hospital is yet to benefit from the concession.
Mr. Rolla said they are presently renovating the emergency and x-ray rooms to meet the current trend. He added that the Blood Bank Laboratory would soon be expanded to meet the demands of the country. The Medical Coordinator said the hospital which is the main referral hospital in the country has employed 378 Sierra Leoneans, 14 international medical staff and two Managers. He said regular training was also being provided to its staff.
The Deputy Director of Budget, Tasima Jah reiterated that he was impressed with the good work of the hospital noting that he was going to convey the concerns of the hospital to senior officers of the Ministry.
Referring to the Emergency Hospital as a Sierra Leonean hospital, Mr. Jah said it was necessary for the hospital to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Sierra Leone to have a medium term projected budget. The Deputy Director of Budget said a task force could also be formed to monitor the progress of the hospital and be able to brief Cabinet through the Secretary to the Cabinet.