President Bio’s Long Promised Diagnostic Centre… Minister of Health Breaks Silence

By Foday Moriba Conteh

In a solemn keynote address commemorating World Cancer Day 2019, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio pledged to the people of Sierra Leone the establishment of a Radiotherapy Cancer Treatment Centre and a National Diagnostic Centre. In December 2020, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Sierra Leone made a significant stride towards recovering pilfered public funds which it presented, in the form of a written cheque of Le 7,578,449.077 to His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio.
On receiving the cheque, the President made known his intention to allocate the recovered funds to the construction of a Radiotherapy Cancer Treatment Centre and a modern medical diagnostic centre, as part of his commitment to advancing the nation’s healthcare system.
Over three years have gone by since the commitment was made. However, despite that commitment and the anticipation of progress, there has been no visible action taken towards the construction of the promised National Diagnostic and the Centre of a Radiotherapy Cancer Treatment Centre.
With the passage of time, citizens have begun to raise concerns over the apparent delay in fulfilling that critical healthcare promise.
As citizens are eagerly awaiting an update on the promised medical facilities, the Minister of Health, Dr. Austin Demby has on Thursday 17th August, 2023, in an exclusive interview with this medium at his Youyi Building Office in Freetown, intimated that His Excellency, President Maada Bio is very committed to fulfill his promise towards the establishment of a National Diagnostic Centre and the Radiotherapy Cancer Treatment Centre in the country.
He said that the cheque of Le 7,578,449.077 Leones that was presented to His Excellency Julius Maada Bio by the Anti-Corruption Commission from recovering public funds which he said will be allocated to the construction of a modern medical diagnostic centre still remains intact.
The Minister revealed that the delay towards the construction of the Diagnostic Centre and the Radiotherapy Cancer Treatment Centre in the country relates to the type of equipment that should be used in the new centre, adding that traditionally a radioactive Mineral (Cobalt-60) is used as the standard of care.
He noted that for Sierra Leone to construct a Diagnostic and Treatment Centre there is need to consult with the International Energy Agency (IEA), an institution that works with countries around the world to shape energy policies for a secured and sustainable future. The Minister emphasized that the IEA should give Sierra Leone guidance as to what equipment must be procured and how to build one in the country.
Dr. Austin Demby further revealed how the Government of Sierra Leone consulted the International Energy Agency which suggested that Sierra Leone should utilize the Cobalt-60 product adding that the Cobalt-60 is an old bulky medicine and that there are new technologies available now including the Linear Accelerator Machine, furthering the due to the initial recommendation of the Cobalt-60 product by the IEA Government has been going back and forth with them as to what could be best for the country.
He pointed out that the Government consulted with others and discovered that the Linear Accelerator Machine is been used adding that the Government again made such known to the IEA until it was finally agreed that Sierra Leone could have both the Cupboard 60 and the Linear Accelerator Machine in country.
The Minister of Health also informed that in December of 2022 the Government met with Varian Medical Systems leading to the signing of a 10 years Memorandum of Understanding which will cover screening, diagnosis, advanced treatment and training of local staff.
“Where we are now is to activate this engagement with Varian Medical Systems and work with them to help us with the right specifications. I want to profusely apologize because we have not fulfilled the promise of His Excellency, President Maada Bio. But I want to assure the nation that the funds are secured but we don’t want to bring an equipment that doesn’t met our requirement as the Centre is expected to last for years,” the Health Minister stated.
Dr. Austin Demby ended by reaffirming Government’s commitment to the construction of the Diagnostic Centre and the Radiotherapy Cancer Treatment Centre in the country.
As the nation enthusiastically awaits fulfillment of the promise made by His Excellency towards the construction of the Diagnostic Centre and the Radiotherapy Cancer Treatment Centre, citizens continue to call on the Government to prioritize its establishment.
According to them the need for accessible and modern healthcare facilities is paramount for the well-being of the population, and it is their hope that the Government will take swift action to honor its commitment and pledge.
This medium will continue to follow the issue keenly.


  1. Another lie and white smoke. Unfortunately, the interviewer did not ask the minister where the money in question is kept? That money was eaten by some people in the Finance Ministry who are no longer in the Government. How long are we continuing lying to our people especially when it comes to health care?


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