Is Free Health Care Actually Free?

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The financing scheme in Sierra Leone that provides free health care to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five is one that we’ve covered before on the blog and the MH Buzz. Many of the discussions about the program have indicated that there is greater access to maternal and child health services, but a new report from Amnesty International finds that many people are unable to access care or are being required to pay for services that should be free:

But for many women and girls the promise of the free health care has not been fulfilled. In interviews, women and girls who had tried to access the health care system after the launch of FHCI told Amnesty International that they were unable to access drugs or care.

Women and girls report two significant problems with the FHCI: either drugs and other essential medical supplies are simply not available at the health facilities, or they are charged for medicines and care that are supposed to be provided for free.