It is no secret that the maternal and infant mortality is what has kept Sierra Leone dangling at the bottom rung of the United Nations Human Development Index (UNHDI).
It is against this backdrop that the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHs) and it partners have set aside a whole week with the goal to reach out to people and children with health information and services in a bid to increase coverage rapidly and reduce disease burden drastically.
Programme Manager Child Health Rev Dr Thomas Samba explained that the objective of the mother and child week campaign is to contribute towards the achievement of the MDGs and PRSP by increasing health awareness and motivating communities for positive behaviour change, increasing community awareness and thus improving community participation. Increasing coverage for various interventions rapidly and increasing utilization of health services at all times.
Highlighting thematic areas that will be focused on ,he explained the District Exhibitions should focus on maternal and child health interventions: health fair day launching, nutrition demonstration, early and exclusive breastfeeding (EEBF), immunization, reproductive health, counselling + FP Methods/Materials, condom demonstration, HIV Counselling (PMTCT, etc), ITN education and demonstration and hand washing with soap demonstration.
Addressing media practitioners recently, Dr Fussum Daniel, acting WHO representative explained that Sierra Leone was provisionally certified polio-free by the African Regional Certification Committee in 2007. He added that the last cases of polio were reported in 1999 in Kenema and Port Loko district.
He explained that since then the surveillance system has indicated that the polio virus has not been circulating in the country. Dr Daniel said, “there is evidence that the virus is still circulating in some West African countries…”
“There is therefore the need for the country to embark on an immunization campaign that is synchronized with other 11 West African countries in the sub-region to achieve very high polio vaccination coverage and interrupt any possible transmission,” he said.
He explained that polio will be administered in all 13 districts in Sierra Leone to children under five years of age with other interventions like mebendazole and vitamin A.
Dr Daniel revealed that there will be two phases of the campaign: “the first phase of the vaccination will be in five districts: Kono, Kenema, Kailahun, Moyamba and Pujehun. The vaccination exercise will be from June 2nd to 7th. The second phase of the Yellow Fever vaccination will be in November in the other districts except Bonthe, Bombali and Bo,” he explained.