By Harold Thomas
Hundreds of people will meet at Bintumani Conference Centre from the 7th to 9th April, 2022 for an important, and some would say historic, Health Summit and Awards Ceremony. In fact, all roads will lead to Bintumani.
This is historic in the sense that never has the Ministry of Health held such a summit. This vibrant event will send hundreds of people in and outside of the country to three days packed full of innovative and ground breaking interaction.
The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Austin Demby, has been very consistent in his commitments to push the agenda for universal health coverage for positive health outcomes. He will bring together experts on health to chart the way forward and ‘fast-track the achievement of UHCin the MoHS and come up with flawless recommendations to improve access to healthcare at all levels of society during these three days of deliberations.
The dynamic Minister of Health who is the main convener of this event has signalled his expectation on widening and deepening understanding of the health system challenges.His vision is to foster partnership as well as deepeningtransnational development support for better health outcomes.
Some of the crucial outcomes anticipated from the Summit among otherswill include achievement of the highest commitment, establishment of a platform for mobilization of health development partners for health and harvesting commitment to increase support for health, and efficient use of available resources.
The eventaccording to Dr. Demby is expected to reach its crescendo with the awards ceremony on the evening ofSaturday, 9th April, during which awards of best District Health Management Team; best Secondary Hospital, best Tertiary Hospital; beat Peripheral Health Unit; best innovation in waste management; media excellence in promoting health and wellbeing; best civil society in promoting health and wellbeing. Furthermore,a special ministerial award will recognise the best innovative programme and award for the best performing COVID-19 vaccination team.
One key point to accentuate at this moment is that all this painstaking endeavour is geared towards solidifying health service integration with vital public health functions as its core, and reinforcing governance at the district and sub-district levels by improving multi-sectoral policy and action to safeguard that appropriate determinants of health are properly tackled, taking into consideration the local context.
One thing which is crystal clear is that the theme for the Summit, “Transforming health care delivery towards universal health coverage” is suitable since Sierra Leone as a critical part of the transnational community cannot afford to be left behind in the delivery of quality, affordable and reachable health care services for its entire population.
On the health promotional standpoint, I must hasten to point out that the UHC is one of the defining new strategic insertions in global health, and headway in achieving UHC is fundamental for the advancement towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and maybe more notably, improvement on the path of national development.
As I conclude this piece, let me be optimistic to point out that the forthcoming Health Summit will convene the best minds in Sierra Leone and beyond to confront the most noteworthyencounters by linking human resource for health, resources, scientific and informative resources with ground-breaking and impactful ideas. The Summit I believe will focus on the converging emerging and re-emerging public health treats. Now, more than ever before, we must not only find solutions to the immediate challenges but continue important conversations to address ongoing needs. The events of the recent past will be transformative, but they have also distinctively positioned us to meet and find solutions and work concertedly in rebuilding meaningful lives for all.