USAID Sierra Leone Improves Access to Healthcare for Millions

Speeches Shim

Friday, January 29, 2021
Community engagement in Bombali District, providing awareness on rights and benefits of the Free Healthcare Initiative
USAID

The road to strengthening healthcare and health governance in Sierra Leone is improving and the impact is rippling across the tropical seaside West African nation. In a country of just under 8 million people, Sierra Leone continues to push past the aftermath of the deadly 2014 Ebola outbreak and devastating mudslides that affected thousands in 2017. Both incidents gravely impacted Sierra Leone’s healthcare system, leaving a need for quality healthcare services that far exceeded the nation’s ability to serve its citizens.

The Strengthening Post-Ebola Health Governance (SHG) program, a 3-year program funded by USAID in partnership with UNICEF, was established in 2017 to help meet dire medical needs and lapses in the nation’s healthcare system.  SHG was part of USAID’s post recovery Ebola programs aimed to promote sustainable development in Sierra Leone, with two main goals - increase a citizen’s confidence to actively participate in the delivery of healthcare services and work to strengthen the health system through participatory oversight of drugs and commodities under the Free Healthcare Initiative (FHI) at a national, district and local level.

To date, the SHG program has yielded successful outcomes in improving the demands for services, especially for women and children, by activating sustainable community platforms such as the Village Development Committees (VDCs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media to help monitor the quality of health service delivery in communities across the country. These different platforms have increased the public’s awareness and knowledge about public health services, citizen’s entitlements, and have also empowered citizens to demand for and hold service providers accountable. Additionally, the SHG program has successfully worked closely with the Ministry of Health, at the national and local levels, in building capacity to improve accountability and transparency in the distribution of FHI drugs and commodities across the nation.

According to Cynthia Macaully, USAID Sierra Leone Health Specialist, “USAID is proud to see that with this program, communities have taken ownership in their healthcare governance needs and the trust between communities and local government has improved”.

 

Last updated: September 21, 2021

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