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Министр здравоохранения в Сьерра-Леоне Мохамед Даудис Корома

Mohamed Daudis Koroma: A Tonkolili Friend & Brother
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
May 14, 2010, 17:00

One of the most powerful propagandists in Sierra Leone of this century is little hailed for his propaganda skills but I find him to be within the topmost tiers of political strategists and barefaced propagandists that Sierra Leone has ever produced. This man, in my view, was mostly responsible for taking the then-opposition APC's message through his African Champion newspaper to the masses. He would skilfully, with barefaced cheek, deploy headlines written in Creole; meant to capture and convert the hearts of the largely northern province originated immigrants in Freetown.

Whilst some people give credit to We Yone, Standard Times and Peep magazine , I have always given credit to this man for being the brains that effectively propagated the image of Ernest Bai Koroma prior to September 2007. This gentleman is a master in political propaganda and in local political strategies. However, one thing about him is that despite his intense loyalty to the APC and President Koroma, he rarely, if ever, will stoop down to some of the low-down tactics that others utilise in propagating material for the APC and to the best of my knowledge, he has never launched a single personal attack at a woman that was a gender-based attack. The Sierra Leonean gentleman I am talking about is Mohamed D. Koroma, the current Deputy Minister of Health & Sanitation and former Managing Editor of African Champion newspaper.

I have an enduring respect for Mohamed Koroma that has been built up since I first started my newspaper five years ago at which time I had made no secret of the fact that I believe in the retention of the country's Criminal Libel Laws until we can legislate strong insurance policies for news outlets within this country. As a result of my stance, journalists turned their pens against me – expectedly! I naturally expected this but still never relented in stating and re-stating my beliefs in the face of some of the most abhorrent tactics to silent me.

Pro-APC journalists who needed to churn out massive, untruthful propaganda against the SLPP back then in those years, held no prisoners as they castigated me ceaselessly for my pro-criminal libel position which was seen as being pro-SLPP since the then Government was led by the SLPP and criminal libel laws are usually abused by Governments of the day. The most favourite tactic employed at that time was vicious personal attacks on me as a woman.

Using gender-based insults, I was portrayed in despicable terms all in an effort to browbeat and intimidate me but throughout all of that period, despite formidable propaganda that he would regularly deploy to shore up the APC and Ernest Koroma, Mr. Mohamed Koroma never went down that road. He showed he had too much respect for his mother and female relatives to indulge in the kind of tactics that were being deployed against me and for that, he won my enduring respect despite his obvious pro-APC slant in reporting.

Back then, I confess that I actually went out of my way to befriend Mohamed Koroma because I saw in him a decent, well brought up Sierra Leonean male, a Role Model to upcoming young male teenage Sierra Leoneans and a pride to not only his mother but to the Women of this country. He has continued to comport himself extremely well even after being made a Deputy Minister of Government and when recently he found himself as the recipient of a cascade of awards from persons both in and out of the country, I was not at all surprised. Mohamed Koroma is a decent human being whose friendship I am very proud to boast of.

Like all human beings, Mohamed has frailties which he needs to work on; most of them being linked to his over-riding desire to catapult his APC party to the top but he has another trait which is so commendable and that is the ability to listen to good advise and act upon them. It is as a result of this that he has been able to fine-tune his relationship with many of his civil servant staff from the initial brusque one to one of conviviality.

Indeed, I am proud to have Mohamed Daudis Koroma as a friend and brother and I foresee a wonderful political future in Sierra Leone for him. He just has to be patient and know that the patient dog will always eat the fat bone in politics. God Bless you my brother and dear friend.

Министр здравоохранения в Сьерра-Леоне Мохамед Даудис Корома

The Honorable Minister of Health and Sanitation, Mohamed Daudis Koroma (in photo) and UNFPA Technical Specialist Reproductive Health, Dr. Peter Sikana were in Washington, DC, USA to attend the Global Conference on ‘Women Deliver' forum which was held at the Washington Convention Center from June 7 – 9, 2010.

It was covered by 70 Press Organizations and 130 News Reporters who were sending reports around the world on an hourly basis.

The conference brought together Ministers of Health and Finance from over 30 countries with high maternal and newborn mortality rate. The Minister's Forum was to chart the way forward on how to reduce the many premature deaths in their respective countries. The conference also aimed at re-focusing high-level policy attention on maternal and newborn babies' health.

The forum comprised of many nations including Asia, Latin America, the European Parliamentarian Forum on Population and Development (EPF), as members of Women Deliver. It also acted in Co-operation with its sister parliamentary networks in Africa, the Forum of African and Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FAAPPD),

The Minister of Health, Hon. Mohamed Daudis Koroma in his contribution, told the international body that the stipulations placed on the donated funds sometimes hurt programs that equally needed funding, because the funds cannot be used on programs not allocated to though they need funding as well. He also reiterated the need for more funding for Sierra Leone's newly implemented Free Health Care for pregnant women and children under five, because the program attracts neighboring countries whose citizens come to use Sierra Leone's medical services. Liberians comes through Kailahun and Guinean patients comes through Kambia

I first caught up with the Honorable Mohamed D. Koroma during a part congressional hearing. It was indeed a very hectic week for all the attendees. He was with the embassy personnel Mr. Ibrahim Saspo Sankoh, who was shuttling him to the conference hall when I requested an interview with him. He agreed, but there was not enough time. However, I was able to track him down after nine hours at his Renascence Hotel Room and had a one on one interview.

I am very sorry to interrupt your snooze. I know you are quite exhausted, but this is the only time we both can utilize.

Okay Mr. Koroma lets make use of the few minutes that I have.

Before proceeding further I must express my appreciation for your willingness to grant me this impromptu interview, because I did not think I have a chance knowing how exhausted you are.

It's alright Mr. Koroma.

Mr. Koroma you have been in the news lately on many fronts. First and foremost on the President's semi Pre-Free Health Care hospital inspections around the country. Now Sierra Leone has become the first country in Africa to have Free Health Care of its kind. My question is do you think it is sustainable?

If something has a strong foundation it is bound to last and the structures President Ernest B.Koroma is building are bound to last, because he involved foreign agencies including donor agencies. We are currently having problems and I think they will continue due to our porous boundaries, as we are sandwiched between Guinea and Liberia. Liberians comes through Kailahun while Guineans come through Kambia and use our hospital services thus draining our medicinal supplies and further exhausted our manpower.

I understand that you suspended some medical doctors. Can you educate us on why you took that decision?

Thank you for asking that question. I have a long answer but I will shorten it for you. Sierra Leone's social sector rather, the entire Nation's development was frozen in time. There were people and employees to lead or manage but there were no leaders. As a result, everybody does as he or she pleases. The employees comes to work when they pleases, in other words employees only look forward to collecting their paychecks without doing the job for which they are employed. It is a common practice for everybody to blame the government, but nobody blames themselves for contributing to making the government not to function efficiently.

I was appointed by the President to the Deputy Minister of Health and sanitation position not because I am a medical doctor, but because he has confidence in me and I have to upheld that trust. I have two bosses I'm answerable to who are H.E .Vice President

A.B. Sam Sumana who oversee my work on a daily basis, and the president Dr. Ernest Koroma. My job as head of the ministry is more as an administrator. I value and respect the efforts made by the Janitors, the Cooks, the Housekeeping, my Administration and the Medical Doctors. It is a team work. Whoever evades his or her work will affect the entire department. Shirking has become the name of the game for too long and some people are quite complacent and seemed to resist changes for one reason or another. I hope I answered your question.

You really tried but let me put it this why did you suspend the medical practitioners?

Mr. A. Koroma, Medical doctors are role models to many of us and if the attitudinal change we embarked on is to succeed it has to start from the top officials to bottom.

Recently you fired twelve employees from the Kissy Mental Hospital. What led you to take such drastic decision?

If twelve nurses are caught feeding on the patients meal who knows how long this practice has been going on. If we translate it to Leones and Cents do you know how much it cost the government per year? The patients have nowhere else to feed but these nurses have homes to return everyday and feed themselves, apart they receive a monthly salary.

Are you under pressure to produce or to perform?

No I am not under any pressure (as he smile). Did I answer your question?

Again let me ask the question this way. Are you afraid of being terminated if you don't perform as expected?

Arolyn, a person who gives you a job can equally take it from you at will. If I do my job and I believe that I did my very best and loose that job, my conscience is clear and I won't carry any burden of guilt.

What will you say to those who accuse you of trying to turn the health department to a military entity?

Well that is tough, because you can't stop people from forming their own opinions. If you are handsome people will talk about you, the same goes if you are ugly. This All People's Congress administration has a big job to do. Changing a forty years believe is not an easy task. The changes we embrace are for the right reasons and we are on the right cause. A lot of people in high places will resist them, but these are the role models who should rule by example. Name calling is nothing new, but I have got a job to do and that is to move my ministry forward from the demise it once was.

Are you in competition with the First Lady's program the Women Initiative for Safer Health (WISH) in the villages?

No, not at all. It compliments what we are doing.

Mrs. Koroma‘s program works side by side with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. It is the best thing that ever happened to our women in Sierra Leone. The First lady Mrs. Sia Koroma's determination is making significant progress and improvement in the lives of our women and children.

Honorable, the APC North American Branch secured 38 Dialysis machines, and through the financial help from the Vice President. H.E. A. B. Sam Sumana the Branch recently shipped those Dialysis machines to your department, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Freetown. Did you received them and how will your office use them to benefit the intended consumers?

We received them and we have distributed them according to the regional need. We are constantly monitoring the way they are being used for the benefit of the entire citizenry

What help are you expecting from Diaspora in terms of the machines to be operational?

We need people who actually know how to use these modern equipments in order to be utilized to their fullest potential. Additionally, we will need help to support their maintenance and supplies.

Mr. Koroma, what did you like and what did you hate about your job?

I like my employees, and what I hated is when I am not at work. I like to stay busy.

How will you like to be remembered or what legacy would you like to leave behind?

I like to be remembered as the Minister who improved the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, because I left it better than I inherited it.

In closing, how will you equate yourself or can you draw some parallels between you and Hon. Afsatu Kabba?

We are both citizens and we belong to the same political party. We are both equally committed to implement the President's vision i.e. the attitudinal change. It is a new thing. Most Parliamentarians who are committed to push these changes will gather a significant amount of enemies, and this is the problem Afsatuu Kabba is facing. However, she was charged with many counts, but if six or more counts were considered irrelevant on the first day of the hearing, I think in the end she will be vindicated.

Again I thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to interview you.

Thank you for the interview.

By Arolyn I. Koroma, Washington, D. C. – USA June 17, 2010

карта округов Сьерра Леоне

The Republic of Sierra Leone is composed of three provinces: the Northern Province, Southern Province and the Eastern Province and one other region called the Western Area. The provinces are further divided into 12 districts, and the districts are further divided into chiefdoms, except for the Western Area.

District
Capital
Area sq.km
Population (2008 estimates)
Bombali District Makeni 7,985 424,100
Koinadugu District Kabala 12,121  
Port Loko District Port Loko 5,719 483,752
Tonkolili District Magburaka 7,003 370,425
Kambia District Kambia 3,108 299,725
Kenema District Kenema 6,053 522,656
Kono District Koidu Town 5,641  
Kailahun District Kailahun 3,859 389,253
Bo District Bo 5,473.6 527,131
Bonthe District Mattru Jong 3,468 137,155
Pujehun District Gandorhun 4,105 262,073
Moyamba District Moyamba 6,902  
Western Area Urban District Freetown 3,568 1,473,873
Western Area Rural District Freetown 4,175 205,400

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