Sierra Leone has over the years been rated in the human development index as one of the countries with the highest maternal and child mortality. Studies and assessments have proved that over two billion people suffer from diseases worldwide. In their efforts to reduce, if not eradicate the prevalence of these diseases, the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with Helen Keller International made an elaborate presentation in a form of an assessment on the effort to reduce infant and child mortality on the 7th July,2009 at the Kimbima Hotel, Aberdeen Freetown. The Chairman of the Programme Dr. A.B. Karim lauded the efforts of the drive in reducing the rate of child mortality in our war- torn society. “Sierra Leone has the highest infant and child mortality rate, and low life expectancy, and as a result stands at the bottom of the human development index“ he lamented. But efforts over the years by concerned bodies and contributions from other quarters have assisted greatly in curbing it he added.
In his presentations, Dr. Rumishael Shoo gave a detailed review of the status and impact of child survival intervention. He rated Sierra Leone as 75% responding to efforts in the campaign to reduce child mortality than most other affected sub- Saharan African countries. This has been experienced through the massive dispensation of vitamin A and immunization. Trained and qualified medical personnel have resolved to giving mothers anti- recto viral drugs during pregnancy. The improvement as a consequence in Sierra Leone has been enormous between 2004 and 2008. Sierra Leone has moreover acquired the major characteristics of countries which carry over 15% reduction, as there is significant decrease in deaths characterized by measles, increase in ITN coverage etc, and more effort needed in exclusive breast feeding.
Dr. Mary Hodges presented a survey result on de-worming in Sierra Leone. She stated that the de-worming exercise was a drive in reducing infant mortality, coupled with the onchocerciasis or river blindness programmes. The disease is a cause for lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and other soil transmitted diseases. The Oncho programme, she stated further, since its establishment, has cured these deadly diseases particularly in the provinces. These diseases are contacted through bacteria transmitted by flies and other microscopic organisms which exist in water, pond and ditches. Another major disease that causes maternal and child mortality she highlighted was shistosomaisis which 200 million people suffer from globally out of which 170 million is in Africa. The organism which transmits shistosomaisis, she stated, is a snail which exists in muggy environments. It is particularly found in the east and north of Sierra Leone. Efforts have over the years been relentless towards combating these diseases. This is evident in the distribution of Mebendazole tablets to eight districts in Sierra Leone. Very soon they will embark on distributing it in the western urban and rural to nationally put a halt to maternal and child mortality.