SIERRA LEONE: First Lady Describes Sierra Leone as a Progressive Democracy

Friday, July 2, 2010
Western Africa
Sierra Leone
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Human Rights

The First Lady, Her Excellency Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma's second visit to the United States in less than a month for the 2nd Global Conference ‘WOMEN DELIVER' is a demonstration of her commitment to work along side her husband's progressive administration to improve the health and lives of women and children in Sierra Leone. Her party included her personal assistant Mrs. Musu Mattru Dao, physician Linda Foray, MD., Program Co-coordinator Mr. Shekou Nuni and Mr. Sylvester Pessima, CSO. The Global Conference started on June 7-9, 2010. It is a coalition of the world First Ladies of Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe's work progress report It. was covered by 70 Press Organizations and 230 reporters who sends out Press Releases around the world every hour.

H. E. Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma had the opportunity to work with Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, H. E. First Lady of the Republic of Ghana Mrs. Ernestina Naadu Mills, Her Excellency First Lady Salma Kikwete of United Republic of Tanzania, First Lady of the Republic of Zambia Mrs. Shadya Karume and also had the opportunity of working with Adviser and Director of Ghana's Ministry of Health Dr. Fred Sai who chaired one of the progress report meetings..

She shared a stage with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Christiana Amanpour of Cable Network News (CNN), television personality Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington post, US Model Christy Turlington Burns, Southern Africa Singer, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, and many other world celebrities. Sierra: Leone women in politics are bringing significant respect to their country.

In her contribution the Sierra Leone First Lady Mrs. Sia Koroma asked the world body not to look at Sierra Leone as a failed State in the new millennium, but rather

a progressive democracy whose advancement was stifled by a long and protracted war. It was not until few years ago that her husband Dr. Ernest B. Koroma's administration charted a way forward and implemented an aggressive agenda for attitudinal change.

His vision is well received and the nation is witnessing a chain of development in all areas.

Across the globe First Ladies have become formidable advocate for gender equality, maternal health and women's economic opportunities. These strong and powerful women are delivering for their nations today what former First Ladies cannot achieve. It is an endeavor Mrs. Koroma has taken the lead in the international stage as she is now regarded as a pace setter among her equals and her programs are now being recognized and implemented in other countries like Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, .to name a few.

Mrs. Koroma has great enthusiasm to move her country's women's issues at per with most advanced nations. She is working heartily in an effort to lay down the structures for continuity for the future First Lady of Sierra Leone. Internationally she has been recognized as an icon among fifteen First Ladies around the world. The United States of America House of Congress recognized her effort, achievements, and recommended her genius methods be duplicated in other countries.

These women formally play the part of liaison officers for their husbands in their locale. Today, their roles are drastically changing to international advocates for women's issues in their respective countries. Most women play the role of the unsung heroines behind their husband's successes. This century will polarize the heavy lifting women partake along side their husbands which for ages had gone unnoticed.

The First Lady is convinced that all things are possible when women support each other. She recognizes the fact that whether one lives in a developed or underdeveloped nation as First Ladies they all have something to offer their respective constituencies. They should work briskly and be committed to influencing their individual governments to put into place polices that have the greatest impact. As First Lady, like many others, she will continue the advocacy work she is already committed to, and she will work vigorously towards meeting her set goals. It is this belief and her determination to make a difference that is drastically transforming the national landscape of women in Sierra Leone

Additionally, she informed the forum that the war further plunged the nation of Sierra Leone into deplorable health indicators to maternal mortality rate of 857 per 100,000 while as before the war it was 1300 per 100,000. Children mortality rate rose to 140 per 1,000. The women who made up 52% of the total population have a life expectancy rate of 41 years. It was a combination of these concerns to change the status quo that spurred Mrs. Koroma's interest in promoting health care for women. She replicated the Campaign for the Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) that was held in Ethiopia during the African Union Conference in may 2009. She held similar campaign at the Prince Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH), in Freetown on March, 27, 2010. The public response was quite encouraging, and she built upon its success. She received many requests from the rural and Sub-Urban area women's organizations. It was an insurmountable task but the venture was achievable and not very long the administration recognized both her effort and the coalition of women's determination in promoting their health issues.

The energized coalition soon won the support of the president Dr. Ernest B. Koroma and he made Health Care the primary focus of his administration. The enthusiasm injected in the women's health issues galvanized the nation and foreign agencies, and soon a national Free Health Care (FHC) for pregnant women, lactate women and children under five years was implemented on April 27, 2010. It is the first of its kind in African.

The First Lady , Mrs. Sia Koroma organized successful forums and invited religious and traditional leaders to assist in the dissemination of knowledge and understanding of the repercussions associated with ignoring the safer methods being propagated to the women to practice in other to fully benefit from the new program..

She currently concentrates her effort on the approximately 150-bed experimental Hospital at Mattru Jong in the southern flank of Sierra Leone. She is also eyeing Makeni and Lungi to build Satellite Clinics to ease traveling and the heavy load on government hospitals.

With regards to HIV/AIDS and Brest Cancer she requested the international body for more funding from the donor nations. She works hard to help the prevention of HIV/AIDS transmission from mothers to child, and to further request the world donors to make the antiviral pills readily accessible to HIV/AIDS victims. Regarding to Breast cancer which slowly creeps and destabilizes the lives of many women around the world,

The Sierra Leone First Lady Mrs. Sia Koroma stressed the need for additional funding to assist satellite medical agencies disseminates information for women to be knowledgeable about the disease and seek period tests.

The obstacles women share are boundary blind and Sierra Leone women have had their own share. However, the program for Women's Initiative for Safer Health (WISH) in collaboration with the newly implemented Free Government Health Care for lactate Women, and children under five years is slowly but surely helping to hold together families or marriages that otherwise could have separated, because of the economic hardship of having a newborn in an already financially stressed family.

In her opinion, the First Lady Mrs. Sia Koroma refused to sit back, relax and admire her accomplishments rather she always look for how she can help to improve the lives of her people.