Health issues are cross cutting issues with no regional or political restriction as tens of hundreds of people irrespective of age, gender, colour, tribe and race required sound healthcare services on a daily basis.
It is an all-inclusive approach given the fact that, there are 2 things that are sacrosanct in life: that is being born and inevitable death which is not unconnected with health related issues. Childbearing in this part of the world and elsewhere is not only risky but very delicate and therefore requires serious medical attention. Equally so, for any living soul to be healthy should always respond to improve healthcare services otherwise death will be the ultimate end. In third world Africa most rural and in some cases urban settings traditional medication is used for major and common diseases amidst advance or sophisticated health services, but the end is devastating

In the process of administering crude or substandard treatment the incidence becomes complicated and complex to the extent that no option would be sought and hence resulted to death. These obnoxious beliefs and practices by many have created a lot of embarrassment for Government and its development partners who want to see Sierra Leone a disease Free State. The obscene attitudes of the vulnerable mass in vulnerable communities have posed huge challenges to the health sector in Sierra Leone, thereby placing high demand on Government to direct substantial resources to the sector at the expense of other MDA,s and to ameliorate the situation. Yes it is an open secret that Government and its development partners are doing substantially well to turn things around within the Sector but should not be oblivious of intensifying awareness raising through the available mix communication channels including the traditional media to reach out to all segment of society in order to transform the perception and behaviors of the populace in the spirit of healthy Sierra Leone. In an effort to determine the level of awareness among inhabitants of the country side in post Ebola era of Sierra Leone, The author of this piece was perplexed to learn that some rural community dwellers are still in the habit of diabolic hygienic practices such as open defecation, sourcing water from untreated streams; eating bush meat and ignoring effective hand washing practices.
Infact, visiting most communities these days, one can hardly find hand washing devices in their homes let alone talk about soap and detergent to clean their filth and these practices are key in the fight against the Ebola virus disease but was never sustained by huge proportion of the national populace.
Even among the urban dwellers, many of the dwellers have refused to adopt preventive measures because it habitual for them around business places in urban towns and cities to liter their business places with stagnant water and dirt all around with its attendant effects of multiplying ominous flies and hence outbreak of diseases .
The Government through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with development partners have put together a strategic working plan to adequately strengthen the health sector to cope with the growing population and new establishments or settlements across the board but one is afraid that the majority of people are still accustomed to unhygienic and unsanitary practices which are the principal causes of health complications in the country.
Many residents in rural and urban communities believe that going for diagnostic or laboratory test is a waste of time and resources because they have their special arrangement with their quack or pepper doctors who keep on drifting them closer to their graves in the name of cutting down on expenditure.
In Sierra Leone, streets in rural and urban towns are filled with untrained and unqualified drug peddlers, hawking their cheap and fake products contrary to government policy which clearly stipulates that every drug should be certified by the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone.
Over the years, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has done substantial efforts in putting an end to this menace which had claimed many lives, but the situation becomes worsen with rural urban migration to which even semi or illiterate are seen in every nook and corner peddling their drugs. Like some traditional healers and herbalists, drug peddlers are even going to the extent of negatively orientating large segment of society to believe that their products are more effective and efficient than those approved by the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone, what the hell!
The late, Hon. Minister of Health and Sanitation Mohamed Daudis Koroma of blessed memory, were very much vigilant and instrumental, sweating from one drug store to another checking the legitimacy and viability of these products. At that time many drug stores were shut down while many had to regularize their status, but after his demise many more illegal outlets sprang up much to the detriment of the impoverished mass of society that are finding solace in subscribing to counterfeit drugs with little or no time to check their viability.
According to history, since pre and post-colonial periods to date, the people of Sierra Leone have suffered heavily in the hands of those trading in unregulated and counterfeit drugs and to a very large extent many potential lives of all categories or age who would have contributed to the development of the country have died in a mysterious circumstance for want of credible treatment.
This constitutes a very serious challenge for the steady development of the country giving the fact that most of the able body in the labour force in the farming and agricultural communities are either partially or chronically sick to work on farms to increase productivity. Those who are expected to offer services have abandoned farming in the hands of the old and tired for greener pastures in the mines and commercial Cities. The old and withered folks have little or no strength to embark on large scale production and to boost national economy. Government has continued to building up capacities of medical staff, procurement of essential drugs and services and supporting the overall structural development to eradicate the health challenges in the sector. The major challenge in the sector is how to change the beliefs and behavioral pattern of the people to deviate from their obsolete practices for a more improved and advanced hygiene practices.
A lot of media related activities have been going on to raise awareness on the importance of accessing improved health care services but there still remains communication gap between the service providers and beneficiaries. The Ministry of Health and Sanitation needs a comprehensive participatory communication strategy that will effectively and efficiently package information, education and communication products to reach out to the least category of society. The reason being that many sierra Leoneans don’t have radio listening and television viewing culture, let alone to talk of reading newspapers as most of them prefer their traditional channels of communication. If Government is to succeed in improving on its health delivery service, the mass media with particular reference to traditional or African communication channels should be used to reach out to everyone.

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