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March 29, 2012

Sierra Leone signs agreement with key health partners

 
  Dr. K.S. Daoh, Chief Medical Officer of Sierra Leone Photo Credit Dominic Chavez

The government of Sierra Leone has taken several steps toward reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to improve the health and welfare of its people – most recently with the signing of a document.

Country leaders signed an IHP+ country compact, the fourth MLI country to do so, following Ethiopia, Mali, and Nepal.

President Ernest Bai Koroma presided over the signing ceremony, in which the government of Sierra Leone and its health partners, including the World Bank, African Development Bank, World Health Organization, and United Nations Population Fund, reaffirmed their commitment to increase aid effectiveness to advance progress towards achieving the health MDGs. The country compact ensures that all health sector partners adhere to Sierra Leone’s National Health Sector Strategic Plan (NHSSP) 2010-2015.

The compact, finalized on December 19, emphasized the importance of country ownership, noting that the government of Sierra Leone would lead efforts around the National Health Sector Strategic Plan. The compact also calls for meaningful consultative processes to ensure effective collaboration in all health sector activities.

At the signing ceremony, President Koroma and Minister of Health and Sanitation Zainab Bangura called the compact a vital tool toward meeting the MDGs. The IHP+ provides a framework for partners and the government to work together in accordance to the Paris Declaration. Sierra Leone had announced plans to join IHP+ in May 2010.

MLI Country lead for Sierra Leone, Dr. Aminata Kanu, noted that this compact signing was just one of a number of steps the government has taken to increase transparency and streamline health sector activities. “Even before the signing, we were working on a joint program of work and funding (JPWF). This means that things will all be done according to the government plan for health."

“There has already been a change of attitude and ways of working,” Kanu said. “People are actually sitting together and [talking about their plans] to build X-number of maternity wards with Y-funds.”

Kanu noted Minister Bangura’s role in pushing forward this country compact signing. From Minister Bangura’s first days in office, she demanded increased transparency and accountability from the Ministry and NGO partners, Kanu said. “That resonated with a lot of people,” she said.