The Sierra Leone Web



Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to participate at the opening ceremony of this newly refurbished Koidu Hospital. This event symbolizes our collective commitment to the restoration of Kono District to its former glory. This is being done alongside similar efforts undertaken by Government, the donor community, and local communities throughout the country.

Indeed this project, and the several other important initiatives that the United States Government has been promoting in Kono, in collaboration with Government and other agencies, gives us full confidence that the colossal damage that was recently done to this district will be fully repaired and the Kono residents will again enjoy normal conditions of life and resume in earnest their valuable contribution toward in the development of the entire country.

It is indeed with deep satisfaction and gratitude that I acknowledge the valuable contribution made by the NGO, Premiere Urgence, towards this project including contracting and supervision of the work.

In the same vein, I am extending sincere thanks to MSF-Belgium for having provided capable staff to run the hospital during and immediately after the war. It is a matter of deep regret, however, that MSF-Belgium is no longer affiliated with the hospital. Nevertheless, they have offered critical service at a time it was most needed and have left behind a legacy that will continue to be cherished by us for years to come.

I would like to assure the community here in Kono that the standard of care that has been developed in this hospital will be maintained by Government, not least as a tribute to the valuable contribution of the United States Government, Premiere Urgence and MSF-Belgium.

In this regard, strategies are being developed for the allocation of responsibility for day-to-day running of the hospital, management of drugs, equipment and supplies to local authorities.

Community oversight must be present and will be strengthened to ensure that it contributes towards ensuring transparency and act as a deterrent to corrupt practices.

We also need to make health care more accessible - that means charging reasonable fees for services and, when needed, providing emergency transportation.

To the staff of the Koidu Hospital, as health professionals, you should be among the most valuable members of our community. Regrettably, I have received report that some local staff members of the hospital have been taking drugs and other items intended for patients without authority and selling them to the public. This is not only disgraceful it is also the worst form of expression of ingratitude to those who not only have used the hard-earned resources of their countries and have forgone all forms of comfortable living by coming here to take care of the health of our people. Clearly their objective is to help create a congenial environment for our people to enjoy an improved standard of living. I wish you had put me in a position to say how proud I am of you all, but those who have shamed Sierra Leone by selling drugs intended for patients have deprived me of that opportunity.

The culprits must stop this unacceptable behaviour. We have put arrangements in place to ensure that the next time their customers may well be law enforcement officers.

To the rest of you we all depend on your skills and your integrity. I ask you to renew your commitment to your profession. Provide quality care to your patients, treat your patients with the respect and dignity they deserve and take care of the properties and other items belonging to this hospital entrusted to your care.

It is now my pleasure to declare the hospital open.

I thank you.