Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sierra Leone Legalizes Free Health Care for Mothers, Infants

This news release from Medicins sans frontieres/Doctors Without Borders details Sierra Leone's new national law, which mandates free health care as of April 27, 2010, to the nation's most vulnerable groups: pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children under the age of five. These groups represent the highest rates of mortality in the nation, and the new law seeks to reduce these numbers by improving access to preventive and urgent medical care that many cannot otherwise afford.


  1. Sheri Carey
    Geng 239

    The documentary, Searching For Angela Shelton, directed by Angela Shelton, was a moving piece in which Angela searched for women with her same name and on her journey she discovered that many of the women she found had been sexually abused just like her. Angie's goal was to find women who had been abused, but I think that in going on this journey, she actually found herself. She was able to confront her attacker, and although he denied ever abusing her, she was still able to talk to him in a calm manner. However, she was later upset that she did not yell at him for what he did to her.

    This documentary first reminded me of "The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother," written by Gabriel García Márquez. Even though the grandmother was not the one directly abusing Eréndira, she allowed men to have their way with her for money. The second thing that this documentary reminded me of was the film, Monsoon Wedding, directed my Mira Nair. In this film, Ria was sexually abused by a close family friend that everyone thought they could trust. Ria kept her secret for a long time, but when she realized that her younger cousin was being abused by the same man, she spoke up.

    By watching these films and reading this story, I realize that sexual abuse is far more common that I knew. It is especially terrifying to me to know that most of the victims knew their attacker. I think that Searching for Angela Shelton was a great documentary, and I thank the group that screened it for doing so.

  2. Betsy Kaeberle-For comment
    I think this new policy for Sierra Leone is great. With so many people in the world living in poverty, healthcare is normally last on their lists yet health means life. I found this article interesting when tying it to the previously posted article “Backstreet Abortions in Kenya”. In that article, it was talking about girls having abortions in the backstreet poverty stricken areas of Kenya because they had no other option, but then here in Sierra Leone, they are now going to have other options, healthy options that won’t cost them any pennies.
    In a class last semester we did a simulation that we were a poor family living in an African country. We had to make choices like what to spend on our money on-sending our girl to school, buying a new mule, fixing the well, etc. Every choice you made led you to another difficult choice and by the end the wife was having a child, but we had spent all of our money on food and schooling that we couldn’t afford healthcare and she died. Free healthcare for women and children in Sierra Leone is a huge step for the nation and hopefully, with families being healthier that can be one less choice families will have to make to spend their money on. Hopefully with the money a family saves, they can afford food and schooling, ultimately benefiting the entire nation to grow out of poverty. Also, this healthcare may decrease the rising birth rates because if a family knows that their child is unlikely to die before the age of 5 then maybe they will be less likely to have more children that they can’t afford to feed and shelter.

  3. Heather Allen

    I think it is great that Sierra Leone has finally took a step to help it's people, especially those who are more susceptible to disease and sickness. I'm glad to see that free healthcare is being offered in a country that is still considered "third world." It took the United States long enough to get healthcare together and this country, seemingly out of nowhere, is providing free healthcare for those who need it. As a nation who is considered "first world" we should feel a little behind in the times. Sure, our healthcare system is great for those who can afford it or have insurance, but for those who don't it can be a big problem. Sierra Leone has taken a step in the right direction by providing free healthcare. It is one universal right that has taken so long to come into effect. I feel the Sierra Leone government is taking a step in the right direction.

  4. One of the statements made by Zimbe is that, “although free care might not resolve all the problems that limit the access to health care for these vulnerable groups, it will remove one significant barrier.”
    I believe that aid is a vital component in recovering Africa as a continent and this step that is being made in Sierra Leone is only the beginning of greater achievements for the world. I liken this article to "Life and Debt" in the sense that the opressor is forcing local business out; in the case of Sierra Leonne, the opressor is forcing health care fees and thus once removed the health care of the Sierra Leonne citizens is greatly improved.

  5. I believe that Sierra Leone took a great step in trying to become a healthier nation by having free health care for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children under the age of five. If babies are developing in an unhealthy fetus what is the chance that the baby or mother will recover 100% after the baby is born? By starting out healthy the infants have a better chance of living longer and healthier. Zimble said, “Although free care might not resolve all the problems that limit the access to health care for these vulnerable groups, it will remove one significant barrier,” which shows that all of Sierra Leone's problems are not solved, but it is a step in the right direction.

  6. It's always positive to see world governments devoting resources to health care and other beneficial endeavors rather than weaponry and warfare. Logically, if we as a collective world reach a point where disease and other problems are reduced, it would follow that fighting and world conflict would lessen. People will always fight for wealth and resources; that's human nature. But people will always fight more desperately to survive and protect their families than they will for riches. I'm completely in favor of Sierra Leone's actions.

  7. Sarah Afify
    As a health science major I recognize how important it is to make health care easily accessible to all. Officials in Sierra Leone are taking a positive step towards ensuring a healthier population. This is onlt the first step, hopefully as time progresses health care will not only be accessible to those who are most vulnerable to the nation as a whole. It’s evident from Zimble’s words that even though many issues still plague the nation it’s good to see something positive come about. This gives the people of Sierra Leone hope.

  8. I think this is a great step in the right direction fro Sierra Leone as well but I also feel that it is going to be very hard for a poverty stricken country like Sierra Leone to keep the funding for this kind of a plan. Even in the article the people basically say that they hope it keeps up. This is a step in the right direction however I think it probably will need a lot of aid to be able to last long. Especially since in the United States many believe that our economy cannot with stand the economic burden of free health care. I found it quite interesting that a third world country like Sierra Leone is getting the first steps towards free health care before Americans did.

    This article also reminded me of the Reading a Region paper i wrote regarding Africa. My point in the paper is how the media feeds into our stereotypes of continents such as Africa, being poor children and people dying. This article shows that anytime we see Africa in our Western Media it is shown as a needy poor continent that needs our aid to help them out.

  9. The fact that Sierra Leone’s Government is going to starting implementing a policy of free health
    care to the most vulnerable groups shows the country to not only be one who has recognized one
    of its enormous issues, but whose well-being of its citizens is of upmost importance and is willing
    to do something about it. This speaks very strongly for the country. A concern is that even with
    the implementation of this new policy, members of these most vulnerable groups might still be
    reluctant to seek health care for fear that there is not enough free health care there is not enough
    of it to provide everyone with what she needs and that she might be taking it away from someone
    who needs it more badly than she does. Also, If Sierra Leone implement’s this policy, it might set
    an example for other countries to start putting pressure on their governments to implement similar

  10. Natasha Bauer
    GENG 239

    I was really shocked when I read this article. How great is it that one of Africa's poorest, most poverty-stricken countries is providing FREE health care to "the nation's most vulnerable groups: pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children under the age of five". Clearly with this help, the mortality rate of Sierra-Leone's people will decrease dramatically which provides a more stable and healthy environment for a civilization to develop; not to mention proving a point to the governments of other poverty stricken countries in Africa. Hopefully, this will be a successful step in the right direction for African development and globalization.