Its not always easy to interpret data. Take the case of data on per capita expenditure on health by Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as published by the World Bank
This shows that Salone is spending far more on health per capita than either Guinea or Liberia. Yet it would appear that we are the hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic. How should one interpret that?
Does that mean that the epidemic’s spread and effects were not primarily health induced?
Or could it be that we have much greater leakages in our health sector than the other two countries? Put differently are we in reality spending less on health and siphoning more to private pockets?
Or are we less efficient in using health expenditures?
Depending on the answer or combination of answers we choose, our policy prescription will be either effective, or make no difference. To illustrate- if you think the problem is siphoning money to private pockets, then the solution is not to pour more money but reduce diversion of funds to private use. If u think the problem is inefficiency, then the solution is more training, better organisation etc and NOT pouring more money. Even more dramatic, if the epidemic’s spread was not primarily due to health service shortcomings, then the solution must be found elsewhere such as governance shortcomings, including accountability!
To get the right answer, one needs independent and objective observers of what happens to health service delivery in the hospitals and clinics everywhere. This is best obtained by Think Tanks than by those directly involved. Yet in Sierra Leone we have only a few emerging, and even these are considered as NGOs or worse as “Opposants”. When they issue reports they open themselves up to severe criticisms (admittedly not always unjustified because they are not as thorough as they should be) by authorities who hide behind the defensive screen of the report being “politically motivated”.
As we approach post-Ebola stage in our development, we must bite the bullet and as one, irrespective of political affiliation, apply the right solution by admitting the errors of the past.