Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – Sento Kamara, a dedicated nurse practitioner stationed at the “Heremakono” Community Health Post in Koinadugu District, has been unwavering in her commitment to serving the community, despite not receiving a salary for the past two years. The twenty-seven-year-old health professional has particularly focused on immunization efforts in the district.
Routine immunization, the process of making individuals resistant to diseases through vaccination, faced significant challenges in the past due to misconceptions and other barriers. However, positive changes have been observed recently.
Koinadugu District Medical Officer, Dr Steven Fornie, acknowledged the numerous challenges the district encountered in implementing routine immunization, including misconceptions about vaccines, poor road networks, and limited staff capacity. Nevertheless, Dr Fornie proudly stated that the district has made remarkable progress in overcoming these challenges, achieving a routine immunization rate of over 95%.
This achievement can be attributed in part to the diligent awareness campaigns conducted by healthcare workers in the district. Nurse Kamara emphasized the importance of sustaining these campaigns to continue the positive trend.
Dr Fornie credited several factors for the district’s success, including the supply of motorbikes by the Ministry of Health and its partners, which has improved healthcare workers’ mobility in reaching remote locations.
Nenneh Sesay, a caregiver in a remote village, expressed gratitude for the government’s and healthcare workers’ efforts in bringing vaccines closer to communities. She noted that unlike her elder sister, she had easy access to vaccines for her daughter, thanks to the vaccine outreach program.
Dr Fornie acknowledged Goal Sierra Leone for providing electricity to their facilities. However, he highlighted the need for additional refrigerators, motorbikes, and vehicles to further support healthcare workers in accessing hard-to-reach communities.
Community Health Officer Sheku R. Mansaray from Fadugu Clinic attributed the district’s immunization success to years of awareness-raising campaigns. These campaigns have instilled confidence in caregivers, encouraging them to bring their children for immunization.
Iye S. Koroma, a caregiver, shared that her confidence in vaccines grew after encountering healthcare workers and district stakeholders who educated her about vaccine efficacy. She firmly believes that vaccines will protect her daughter from various illnesses.
Mansaray pledged to continue the awareness-raising campaign, emphasizing its critical role in sustaining the immunization program’s growth. Despite the achievements, he noted that the health centre faces challenges related to fuel for vehicles and called for support in that regard.
The District Operations Officer of Koinadugu District also commended the government and its development partners for ensuring a consistent vaccine supply, preventing stock shortages in the district. SKS/10/10/2023