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Focus 1000 has joined the Africa Health Budget Network and partners  to call for better spending for women and childrens' health in Sierra Leone. A press  conference was held on Wednesday 13th April, 2016 at the Kona Lodge in Freetown where a press release was circulated to the media stating their positions in line with the #ValueOurHealth Campaign ASKs for women and children.

Read press release below.

Press Release

Wednesday 13th April 2016
Freetown, Sierra Leone

Budget Advocacy Network, Save the Children, Focus 1000, Health for all Coalition, Health Alert, WASH-NET, Civil Society Alternative Recovery (CiSAR) and the Africa Health Budget Network call for better spending on women and children

The Africa Health Budget Network and its members are calling on governments to take urgent action to increase access to budget information and to provide more opportunity for public engagement in the budgeting process.

On Friday 15 April at the World Bank/IMF 2016 Spring Meeting’s Civil Society Policy Forum in Washington, D.C, the Network shows that publishing key budget documents and public participation in the design and implementation of health budgets leads to more and better health spending.

In Sierra Leone, civil society organisations are joining the call for open and participatory health budgets for our women and children and asking the Government of Sierra Leone to #ValueOurHealth.

We care about how much is spent on different health programmes because we want better levels of health and well-being for ourselves and the country.

The 2015 UN Maternal Mortality Estimates show that Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world, with 1,360 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. We ask for more and better spending on reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health for improved service delivery. Stock outs of reproductive health commodities are very common in Sierra Leone, so we also demand that the Government of Sierra Leone increases its budgets for the procurement and distribution of reproductive health commodities.

Abu Bakarr Kamara from Budget Advocacy Network said: “This is our money and our health. We demand that the Government values our voice and values our health. We are calling for adequate spending on women’s and children’s health in the next budget.

To keep the Government of Sierra Leone accountable for the way they spend our public money on health, citizens and civil society need to be able to access sufficiently detailed information about actual spending and about what the results of this investment have been.

According the Africa Health Budget Network and International Budget Partnership’s Transparency and Participation Scorecard (2015), Sierra Leone has made some good progress in terms of transparency in health spending even though the country is yet to meet the required target. The 2015 Open Budget Survey states that Sierra Leone is publishing 6 out of the 8 key budget documents. We welcome the progress the country has made in providing its citizens with this vital information so that we can see how our money is spent.

But we also need the opportunity to influence decisions during the budget process, and to provide evidence to the government about the most important health priorities in Sierra Leone.

The Government of Sierra Leone scores 31 out of 100 for public participation in the Open Budget Survey. This means that Sierra Leone is weak in providing the public with opportunities to participate in the budget process. The voice of the people must be heard during the budget process, so that it reflects public priorities. The government must take steps now to address this.

Aminu Magashi Garba from the Africa Health Budget Network says: “It has been shown that public participation and open budgets can improve the health of its citizens because those budgets will be more influenced by the priorities of the people who use health services every day. African voices are calling for better spending on women and children. Value Our Health.”

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