It is no secrete that maternal mortality and infant mortality is what has kept Sierra Leone constantly at the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index (UNHDI); and to turn the situation round, the Health Ministry has initiated the ‘welbodi’ week.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO), Abass Kamara explained that the aim of the ‘welbodi’ week, which would be observed once in six months, is to deliver an integrated package of preventive services, achieve high coverage and reduce inequities.
The Health Ministry’s conceptual framework document which highlighted the backdrop of the initiative states that “27% of children born in Sierra Leone die before the age of five adding that “the national acute malnutrition rate is 9% of which 2% are severely malnourished and 40% of children are stunting.”
According to the framework “micronutrients deficiencies for iron, iodine and vitamin A are endemic and only 8% if children are exclusively breastfed for the first six months.
The document further states that the high rates of malnutrition and mortality observed in infants and adolescents in Sierra Leone are linked to several factors; and these include limited awareness among mothers of proper child nutrition, poor health seeking behavior and poor dietary diversity linked to poverty, food insecurity, as well as some cultural misconception about breastfeeding and other food taboos.
The framework also highlighted the fact that, “like most developing countries, vaccine preventable diseases rank among the major causes of illness and death in Sierra Leone especially for children under five years, due to low immunization rates among children and pregnant women. Currently full immunization coverage is 54%, while measles immunization coverage is 73%”.
By Ophaniel Gooding