According to the Chairman of the NHSC, Dr Alpha Bundu-Kamara, the rationale for the new intake of health personnel is as a result of the country’s poor health indices which are among the worse in the world index, coupled with the ebola epidemic where most of the volunteers played a vital role to manage the disease.
He said the infant mortality rate is 140 to 1,000 live births and maternal mortality rate is 857 to 1,000 live births, which according to him is unacceptable to world health standards.
Dr Bundu-Kamara furthered that most of the illnesses and deaths are attributed to malaria, diarrhoea, acute respiratory tract infections and neo-natal complications, and these illnesses are not limited to urban areas, but it also affects residents in rural communities where most of the confirmed personnel will be working.
He stressed that there is an urgent need to expand on the country’s health service delivery system, taking into consideration of the illnesses mentioned and the way the ebola epidemic took the country by surprise.
The NHSC Chairman admonished the volunteers to show commitment to duty as expected, especially to provide safe motherhood services including antennal and post-natal care as well as advise on family planning and encourage mothers on the six months breast feeding for new born.
He also urged the MCH volunteers now confirmed health workers, to identify and effect early referral of high risk cases, provide immunization to both mother and child and to manage under-fives, including malnourished children within and around the communities in which they are assigned to work.
Dr Bundu- Kamara reminded them that despite they are now officially in the civil service, their career should not stop as MCH providers, noting that the sky is the limit, therefore they should endeavour to undertake other health related courses which will not only elevate them, but will also give more strength to improve the health sector.
Questioned on where the funds will come from to service the new confirmed personnel, Dr Bundu- Kamara replied that government realises the additional burden on the pay roll, but there is a need for human resource expansion for better delivery results, therefore government and its partners will step up to redouble efforts to ensure that the much needed financial resources are available to service the workers.
Dr Alpha Bundu-Kamara continued that the health sector is an important sector that needs huge investment, noting that the 554 new workers are not even enough to support the existing over stretched staff.
He called on government to look into the area of specialization of doctors, which will help cushion the many challenges of treating preventable illnesses that most people go abroad for, or in the case where there is no money, the patient dies.