The latest in the series of SIF briefings for parliamentarians in Sierra Leone took place 6th June in the Hotel Bintumani Complex in Aberdeen, just outside Freetown. Participants included the Chairman and members of the Parliamentary Health Committee, chairmen of all other Parliamentary Committees and representative chiefs in parliament. The sessions were chaired by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Parliament, Hon. Chukuma Johnson (who also performed the official opening ceremony) and the chairman of the Parliamentary Health Committee, Hon. Dr. Sesay. Others attending included the UNICEF Representative, Mr. Mahibo, the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kisito Daoh and two Peer Exchangers from Liberia - co-chair of the House Standing Committee on Health and Social Welfare, Hon. Johnson Toe Chea, and the Deputy EPI Manager, Mr. Augustine Newray. Resource persons were drawn from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, WHO, UNICEF, Sabin and the media.
The presentations highlighted the problems and constraints associated with efforts to achieve sustainable immunization financing, with some suggestions for the way forward. The lively discussions focused on the need to strengthen collective action for sustainable immunization financing, especially between the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and Parliament. The lack of information on immunization expenditures at all levels was recognized as a problem that needs to be urgently resolved in order to ensure efficient monitoring of program performance. The recently developed EPI expenditure tracking guide is to be field tested, and is expected to eventually improve the situation after its launch.
The parliamentarians resolved to intensify their efforts to achieve sustainable immunization financing; this will include deeper involvement in all stages of the health budgeting process. The key partners in Sierra Leone, WHO, UNICEF and the Sabin Vaccine Institute, also reiterated their commitment to achieve sustainable immunization financing and resolved to strengthen their collaboration.