Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health and Sanitation, Austin Demby has said that it would take Sierra Leone a century to have the required number of doctors needed to adequately service the current population.

“Right now Sierra Leone produces 50 doctors a year, we need about 5,000 doctors, at that ratio it will take us 100 years to get to where we want to be. What we’re looking at now is how do we engage the teaching and learning community to expand our numbers.” Demby told Awoko Newspaper.

He said he had a proposal to train 200 doctors a year. “It’s not far-fetched little countries like Malawi are doing 300 doctors … it think we can do that” he added.

Minister Demby explained that his plan is to expand beyond the College Of Medicine and Allied Health Science (COMAHS), and see if we could bring UNIMAK and N’jala University and expand our base and give a little competition to COMAHS, “and that way, you raise the numbers and when you raise his numbers, you know, we start getting the right numbers, you want to be sure that there are sub-specialties available for them because after a while, it’s going to be difficult to just be a houseman for so long.”

Minister Demby said he met with the council for postgraduate training, “we’re looking to see how we best engage … we are looking at how do you bring additional faculty. How do you set some targets for training, to be able to create the kind of health workforce that’s going to be needed.”

Sierra Leone’s healthcare system is not much to write home about, albeit the ambitious Free Health Care Initiative (FHCI), that was launched in April 2010 to reduce financial barriers and strengthening health systems across maternal mortality remains high; accessing health care is still a financial challenge; and often the care need isn’t available, given the country’s severe shortage of trained clinicians, health infrastructure, and medical supplies.