Local Systems Strengthening: Sierra Leone
There are several institutions actively working in Sierra Leone to serve people with disabilities with the assistive devices and rehabilitation they require. These range from Government funded (e.g. National Rehabilitation Centre), iNGOs (e.g. Humanity & Inclusion) and charities (e.g. Legs for Africa). They do excellent work with the constrained resources available, however a majority of the PwD population still go without provision. To counter this the Government of Sierra Leone has taken the bold step to launch the Assistive Technology (AT) Policy and Strategic Plan 2021 – 25 . The strategy sets out 5 policy statements, 8 strategic objectives, and 40 activities which range from coordination of the AT ecosystem, to raising resources and monitoring full implementation of the policy strategic plan. The long-term vision is to develop a National Assistive Technology Program to ensure affordable, quality and equitable AT services to the population.
We note in particular the following Activities designated in the strategic plan:
• Activity 11: Produce and deploy Multipurpose Rehabilitation Workers (MRWs) at Community Health Centers (CHCs) to integrate promotive, preventive, basic care and referral of rehabilitation and AT services with primary health care
• Activity 27: Promote and increase the local manufacturing of AP with partners from other technical institutions, development partners, NGOs and countries to augment AT devices production and maintenance capacity and improve access through decentralized distribution of the AT devices.
• Activity 28: Establish standards and regulatory mechanisms for quality AT products.
Within this project we seek to investigate the potential to enable these designated local actions. We are currently discussing with partners how we will do this, and collectively set an agenda for what the next steps could be.
Local Systems Strengthening
This project is investigating the potential to strengthen local systems of AT provision and innovation to address gaps in service. Where could more localised product and service innovation complement global supply chains to unlock more sustainable and resilient AT ecosystems ? We believe there is an opportunity to create better connections between the AT community and local manufacturers, with both newer digital and traditional fabrication expertise to enable innovation and better support for AT users beyond initial provision.