December 12, 2011

Busan: Strong leaders not taking a back seat

Sarah Lindsay

At the end of November, world leaders gathered in Busan, Korea to discuss progress on the implementation of the Paris Declaration and the integration of aid effectiveness into the development agenda.

The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness resulted in a document describing the way forward called the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which was signed by ministers of developed and developing countries as well as civil society.

This document, however, was not agreed upon without debate. And leading the developing countries’ push for greater ownership of aid was Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame.

November 30, 2011

Minister Bangura: Family planning and priorities in spending

Sarah Lindsay

What happens when a developing country has limited funds for health care? Where does family planning fit as a priority? This question came to the forefront at a press conference today during the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP).

Advocates of family planning constantly promote family planning policies to governments as ‘best buys.’ By investing in family planning and preventing unwanted births and related mortalities and morbidities, family planning can yield a cost savings of $1.5 billion, said Monica Kerrigan of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This savings can be invested in future generations.

November 02, 2011

President Koroma’s political will: “We have a great potential out there and Sierra Leone will transform itself”

Sarah Lindsay

Political will is said to be able to move mountains, bringing about unlikely reforms in countries desperately needing them. Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma is a prime example of this phenomenon. In power since 2007, Koroma fought skeptical donors to bring free health care to pregnant and lactating women and children under five in Sierra Leone after a 1 in 8 maternal mortality rate created a human rights emergency. While the system is not yet perfect, preliminary results have pointed to more women and children getting the life-saving treatment they need.

However, Koroma has not stopped his reforms at health as is evidenced in a recent CNN interview where he shared his ambitious vision for his country. “In the next 50 years, we are not only going to transform ourselves from a low-income country, but we will get ourselves to the level of middle-income country and by the next 50 years, Sierra Leone will be a donor nation rather than a recipient nation.”

September 19, 2011

Help from Cuba

John Donnelly

Sierra Leone Health and Sanitation Minister Haja Zainab Bangura traveled to Cuba last weekend to finalize negotiations to bring much needed health workers to her country.

The verdict: success, in the form of 32 health specialists coming to Sierra Leone.

She is overjoyed. For a country with a dire shortage of health workers, Bangura said the team will have an immediate impact. South Africa is funding the program with a $3 million grant to Sierra Leone.

September 15, 2011

Bangura: "Developing countries are helping us out"

John Donnelly

Haja Zainab Bangura, Sierra Leone's Health and Sanitation Minister, is scheduled to fly today to Havana. It’s part of her unusual globe-trotting efforts to help bring more doctors and nurses to her country as quickly as she can.

Her ports of call are not what you’d expect:

Cuba. South Africa. Nigeria. Even North Sudan.

“This is truly South-South cooperation,” Bangura said in an interview at a Washington-area hotel.  “Developing countries are helping us out.”