Officials of the ministry of health and sanitation have held a one-day press briefing in Kenema at the Gava Forest Industry canteen on the National Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination Campaign.
In his opening remarks the chairman of the occasion who is also the chairman of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists East, Paul Kenie Joseph, thanked the organizers for engaging the media in their campaign saying that it was timely to do so.
He appealed to journalists to do everything in their power to make sure that the messages reach the grassroots.
In his statement the programme manager health education division, Sahr Helmon, said his division was charged with the responsibility of disseminating authentic health messages with the aim that people were informed adequately with prevailing health issues.
He stated that they were out for the round three Neonatal Tetanus Elimination campaign, which would take place all over the country between 19 and 25 this month, and that their focus was on women between the age of 15-49 and that the centres would be very close to everyone.
Mohamed Jalloh, who represented the programme manager MCH Aids, said UNICEF and the ministry of health were supporting the programme.
He said, “the bacteria that causes tetanus is everywhere in the environment and is also present in the soil, ash, and human and animal faeces. For this reason the disease can never be wiped out completely and the only way to prevent and control it is through vaccination and clean delivery practices”.
He further explained that, “Neonatal tetanus is tetanus occurring in a newborn baby between the third and twenty-eight days after birth. Neonatal tetanus accounts for 14% of all deaths in newborn babies. This occurs as a result of unhygienic birth practices, especially when the tetanus bacteria contaminates the baby’s umbilical cord at the time it is cut or dressed after delivery”.
Mr Jalloh said they had targeted 1,186,190 women of child-bearing age, and that 851,172 of children of 6 to 59months old would receive Vitamin A and mebedazole.
He called on journalists to come onboard to clear rumours of infertility and barrenness of women who would take the vaccination.