Sierra Leone: Govt Urged to Increase Access to Sexual & Reproductive Health Services

Health for All Coalition, in collaboration with the Budget Advocacy Working Group (BAWG), has called on the government, through Ministry of Health and Sanitation, to increase access to sexual and reproductive health services by investing in the procurement and distribution of lifesaving drugs and health supplies.

According to a press release, the two organisations claimed that there was a depletion of stock of reproductive health commodities and supplies in most public health facilities.

"Hundreds of women and adolescent die or suffer from preventable or treatable causes because they cannot access affordable and effective reproductive health medicines and simple health supplies. Simple medicines can save lives, but only if people can access it," the release stated.

Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abubakarr Fofanah, had signed a performance contract with Present Ernest Bai Koroma detailing specific outcomes to which his ministry would contribute to the long term development of the country.

Key among his priorities include increased access to sexual and reproductive health services for women and adolescents, especially contributing to reduce teenage pregnant.

The group noted that community health workers would not be useful if they could not provide access to modern contraception and health clinics, and as well be unable to save lives without essential medicines.

They also urged the government to allocate at least 10 percent of the national health budget for the procurement and distribution of reproductive health commodities, adding that Local Councils should also allocate clear budget lines for drug distribution, including reproductive health commodities to primary health care units.

The Abuja Declaration of 2001 calls for countries in Africa to allocate at least 15 percent of their health budget to reproductive health issues. Before now, the Government of Sierra Leone had been allocating about 0.05%, which is why the Health for All Coalition and Budget Advocacy Working Group have called for an increase to least 10 percent.

Victor Lansana Koroma of Health Alert emphasised the need to provide facilities in the reproductive health sector if the government was serious about protecting girls, adding that drugs must be readily available to save the lives of women and girls.

Source: Concord Times.

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