Advancing Partners & Communities Celebrates Support to Health Facilities in Sierra Leone

June 13, 2019
Photo from the event in Sierra Leone
Partners and stakeholders celebrated the conclusion of Advancing Partners & Communities’ SHFI program. Photo: Molly Ferguson/JSI.

On June 13, 2019, the USAID-funded Advancing Partners & Communities project brought together partners and stakeholder to celebrate the conclusion of the Sustaining Health Facility Improvements Program (SHFI), which helped strengthen the health system and increase resilience by supporting sustainable, community-led activities.

Since early 2018, SHFI has engaged communities to support and maintain their peripheral health units (PHUs) through Facility Management Committees (FMC) and thereby increasing local ownership. In the catchment areas of 70 PHUs in Bombali, Port Loko, and Tonkolili districts, SHFI worked with communities to mobilize local resources, including in kind contributions, house-to-house support, Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), and income-generation activities to support maintenance and repairs at their community health facilities.

SHFI is the third and final program in a series of USAID-funded initiatives to rebuild health services and strengthen Sierra Leone’s health system after the devastation of the 2014–2016 Ebola virus disease outbreak. The programs supported the ongoing efforts of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) in carrying out the President’s Recovery Priorities and New Direction.

The celebration event opened with welcome remarks from the MOHS’s Environmental Health Director, Dr. Ansumana Sillah, and the Deputy Chief of Mission for the US Embassy of Sierra Leone, Tomekah L. Burl. The MOHS presented on Advancing Partners’ support for developing standards and guidelines for water, sanitation, and hygiene/infection prevention and control, and facility maintenance.

During a panel discussion on community engagement, stakeholders from the three districts, representing FMCs, health care workers, and other government officials, gave their perspectives. The event also featured testimonials from FMC members who led community resource mobilization, and maintenance and repairs at their PHUs.

Through the SHFI program, it became clear that when communities understand the importance of the PHU and accept their roles and responsibilities towards it, they are willing to support and provide resources to maintain the PHU infrastructure in order to improve the quality of care. SHFI was implemented by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) in partnership with CARE International and local partners RODA and MADAM.