Sierra Leone this year observed its First Africa Vaccination Week- exploring the campaign itself, calling for an in-depth exploration with activities provided since 2008 in the fight to promote maternal and child health.
Sierra Leone is doing what other countries may have done to achieve a dramatic change in child mortality reduction.
Vaccination against measles took place in 2006, November to be exact. And in 2008, the following interventions and activities were carried out:
The campaign provided Vitamin A, Deworming Tetanus vaccination, Insecticide treated bed nets, nation wide information and sensitization activities on breastfeeding, HIV/AIDS, hand washing, and Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS).
Come 2009, the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO and other health development partners intensified the campaign , and in May 2009 administered Vitamin A, Deworming, Polio Vaccination, Yellow Fever vaccination Sensitization and health education information on breast feeding, HIV/AIDs, hand washing and Oral Rehydration therapy (ORT).
Polio vaccines were reintroduced into the campaign as a result of the resurgence of the Polio virus in the West Africa region, and cases reported in neighbouring countries.
According to research, the last national Yellow Fever Campaign in Sierra Leone took place 10 years ago, and since yellow fever vaccine lasts for about 10 years, it was necessary to organize a new campaign.
It is more important for the incoming African vaccination week (AVW) since Sierra Leone is considered to be a yellow fever belt and some yellow fever cases have been detected lately.
Tetanus Vaccination was left out of the May 2009 campaign as national coverage was satisfactory.
In Sierra Leone, vaccine preventable diseases rank among the major causes of illness and deaths, especially of children who are under one year due to low immunization.
As the country continues to battle with the challenges of human development, maternal and child health continues to remain major concerns within the maternal and child morbidity and mortality rates in the world.
The President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s leadership saw the need for an improved condition, and launched the Free Health Care Initiative in April 27, 2010.
This initiative has been supported by the “Mami en pikin well body Week”, and now the African Vaccination week in 2011 with more positive immunization strategies and interventions. Climaxing the African Vaccination Week (AVW), the EPI Team Leader at the WHO Country office, Dr. Pamela Mitula, and UNICEF’s EPI Specialist, Dr. Nuru Maksha, have told a news conference that the African Vaccination week campaign shows significant improvement.
Coverage very good and administrative routine data also good. WHO/UNICEF best estimates say 90% Routine Coverage, 95% Administrative.
Independent Monitors have described the first AVW Campaign as successful and impressive.
Vaccinators in charge of Peripheral Health Units and communities lauded the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO, Helen Keller International and other partners for their various interventions, as well as the strategy applied to default areas.