Sierra Leone has just launched a program to provide free health care to all pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of 5. Here is a link to the article on allafrica.com (http://allafrica.com/stories/201004280613.html) What an amazing first step for the country and for President Ernest Bai Koroma! Now I hate to be a cynic, but I am a realist. And at this point just let me say that I refuse to comment on the state of health care in this country.
I hope and pray that President Koroma continues to take the steps necessary to be able to implement a program of this magnitude, but there are a lot of hurdles that he must leap over in order to do so. this is something that even he and his top health officials (minus a Minister of Health and Sanitation since he was recently ousted after being found guilty of corruption and not yet replaced) admit will be difficult. According to a government press statement they toured some hospitals around the country to check the country's readiness for this program and found a lack of running water, lack of electricity and generators, acute lack of personnel, and insufficient beds and medical equipment.
In a country of 5.7 million people, this program has the potential to directly impact 1.5 women and children and to indirectly impact the rest of the country. But first, these women and children need to have access to a medical facility and in a country where there are approximately 1 doctor and 5 midwives for every 10,000 people (WHO recommends at least 228 physicians/100,000 people) finding somebody to take care of you can be a harsh reality. And, most of these physicians and health care workers are concentrated in the capital of Freetown, not in the vast rural areas of Sierra Leone. If they do have the ability to access a hospital or clinic what are the chances that the needed medication, treatment, or supplies will be available? Like I said, I am a realist.
The reality is that large NGOs (non-governmental organizations) such as UNICEF and small NGOs such as Global Outreach Mission (GOM) can work along side the government in helping to provide affordable, reliable, quality health care to the women, children, and men of Sierra Leone.
Our goal with GOM is to reach out to the people of the Mokanji area and show and share the love of Christ as we minister to people physically AND spiritually. We not only want to give them a healthier life, but eternal life in Christ.