The World Health Organization Country Office in Sierra Leone has concluded a two-day high level technical and operational planning retreat with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to develop and validate the key priorities for the Organization’s 2022-2023 biennial Operational Work Plan. The consultative process facilitated strategic discussions on aligning the Organization’s two years activities with the health priorities of the government of Sierra Leone.
Every other year, Country Offices of the World Health Organization develop their operational plans informed by the Organization’s General Programme of Work. These activities are developed in line with and aligned to the priorities of their host countries. For this biennial, priority activities have been informed by the Thirteenth General Programme of Work or GPW13 which
defines WHO’s global strategy for the five-year period, 2019-2023 (extended to 2025). It focuses on triple billion targets to achieve measurable impacts on people’s health at the country level. The GPW13 aims to ensure that by 2025:
– One billion more people are benefiting from universal health coverage
– One billion more people are better protected from health emergencies
– One billion more people are enjoying better health and well-being
For these global targets to have meaningful and tangible impacts on lives at the country level in Sierra Leone in the next two years, 32 senior officials from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation including the Chief Medical Officer, the two Deputy Chief Medical Officers (Public Health and Clinicals), Directors, Managers and technical officers and 22 officials of their counterparts from the WHO Country Office convened for two days to evaluate progress and lessons from the implementation of the 2020-2021 biennial operational plans, and to agree on and validate the key priorities of the country and key indicators in order to align WHO’s biennial 2022-2023 targets with the country priorities.
The discussions were held in plenary and group sessions and were led from the WHO side by the Country Representative, Dr Steven Shongwe and from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Thomas T. Samba. Commending the government for the conducive environment and close collaboration with WHO, Dr Shongwe reaffirmed the Organization’s continued commitment to support the country’s health agenda and aspiration to improve the quality of health service delivery to ensure that no one is left behind. “Planning together with the national health authorities is not an option for WHO. It is a core responsibility that we must fulfil”, says Dr Shongwe. “The ultimate aim of WHO’s role in countries is to provide the required technical support and we can only do that effective by ensuring that there is ownership, strong collaboration and cohesion between WHO plans and the national health agenda”.
Speaking at the meeting, as the technical head of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr Samba emphasized the critical importance of planning with clear recognition of the context and needs of the country. He described the WHO Country Office as a secretariat of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and that the two entities will continue to work closely together with the goal of improving the health sector in Sierra Leone.
As part of the planning process, the WHO Country team led by Dr Shongwe held prior consultations with the Chief Medical Officer and technical leads at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to agree on the strategic issues relating to planning, monitoring and coordination. This high level engagement was followed by bilateral consultations among the respective technical units at WHO and their technical area counterparts at the MoHS where they discussed their priority activities for inclusion in the two-year plan for presentation at the retreat.
The retreat served as an additional opportunity for the teams to further strengthen the existing partnership between WHO and the MoHS and also facilitated rich inputs which are used in the development of WHO’s biennial plan.
The technical discussions of this successful planning retreat were led by Dr Francis Smart, the Director of Policy, Planning and Information at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with the WHO Cluster leads and the Programme Management Office. At the end of the two days the strategic priorities were set, recommendations made, and mechanisms for a regular joint WHO and MoHS monitoring of the implementation of the workplan and evaluation of progress discussed.