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Sierra Leone: Health Services

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 14 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department has provided to health systems in Sierra Leone in each of the last five years. (142760)

Since April 2002 the Department for International Development (DFID) has provided £5,284,945 to support health systems in Sierra Leone through direct projects.

Please see following table for a breakdown for each financial year.












Some of the projects we have funded include:

Support to UNICEF to help children, families and communities to provide care and protection for orphans and other vulnerable children;

Malaria prevention and treatment;

Support to UNICEF for Immunisation;

Reproductive health;

Rehabilitation of the Primary Health Care System in four Chiefdoms in Tonkolili District; and

Establishing access to emergency Primary Health.

DFID also supports health systems in Sierra Leone through Direct Budget Support to the Government. Of the £59.5 million that has been provided through Budget Support over the last five years, approximately 11 per cent. or £6 million has been spent on the health sector.

In addition, in 2006 DFID provided $30 million through the Africa Catalytic Fund to fund the World Bank’s accelerated Child Survival Programme in Sierra Leone. This is in its early stages of implementation. DFID is also working with the Government of Sierra Leone to prepare a 10 year programme aimed at strengthening the Health System to increase access to quality sexual, reproductive and child health services. It is expected this programme working closely with the World Bank will begin in 2008 and DFID will contribute £50 million over 10 years.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will take steps to encourage the provision of healthcare free at the point of access in Sierra Leone. (142761)

The 2006 Department for International Development (DFID) White Paper commits the UK to “help partner Governments abolish user fees for basic health services”. DFID is fully committed to supporting the Government of Sierra Leone to ensure that this is achieved.

DFID’s position is shared by our partner agencies working in Sierra Leone, including WHO, European Commission, World Bank, United Nations Population Fund, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Food Programme and International NGOs. Recent Health Development Partners meetings in country have established a common position: we would like to see user fees abolished and want to help the government to reach that position for themselves, including helping them to understand how to fund the cost of health services.

The first step towards abolishing user fees is to establish the cost of providing basic health services and how to make this cost sustainable when user fees are removed. Currently fees collected by the government go towards funding the provision of services.

DFID is therefore funding preparation of National Health Accounts through World Health Organisation (WHO) to help establish how much money is currently being spent on health services in Sierra Leone from all sources (donor, International non-government organisations, private sector etc.). In addition DFID, along with other Health Development Partners, is planning to finance a study on options for pro-poor health financing. Once DFID has this Options paper it will be able to discuss with government the best way forward.