The UNFPA Reproductive Health Technical Adviser, Dr Peter Sikana, has said his organization is impressed with the work which Action for West Africa Region (AWARE)- Reproductive Health (RH) has been doing in Sierra Leone.
He added that, “we have seen the great work that this organization has done”.
Dr Sikana made this statement yesterday at the Lagoonda Complex, Aberdeen in Freetown, at a workshop organized by the ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with AWARE-RH project workshop to disseminate AWARE-RH project’s achievements in Sierra Leone.
He said, “we note that AWARE-RH has almost found prominent presence in Sierra Leone in 2005 when a team of Sierra Leoneans attended the sub regional conference on Repositioning Family Planning in Africa that was held in Accra, Ghana.
Dr Sikana stated that, “United Nations (UN) is here to make sure that Sierra Leone and all other developing countries achieved the MDGs”.
Reproductive health issue, he said, if not addressed the MDGs would not be achieved, particularly those relating to reproductive and sexual health.
He noted that that was why UN agencies were very much appreciative of what AWARE-RH was doing.
He disclosed that women must be empowered to decide when they should get pregnant to decide the size of family they wanted, to decide when and where to have their children.
Giving the keynote address the deputy minister of Health and Sanitation, Sheku Tejan Koroma, said Sierra Leone had benefited from the AWARE-RH especially from reproductive health commodities.
He added that health workers, especially those working in reproductive health and family planning, had their capacity building with training and equipment to do their work effectively by AWARE-RH.
AWARE-RH activities support, he said, would go a long way to help in Sierra Leone reproductive and child health programmes which aim at reducing maternal and child mortality. He expressed his gratitude to USAID for providing funding for AWARE-RH
According to Dr Clifford Kamara, director of Planning and Information, Sierra Leone had some of the worst maternal and child morbidity statistics in the world. “If we are going to improve on this situation the activities that have been supported by AWARE-RH are crucial and vital,” he noted.
In her statement Mrs. Boi Jenneh Jalloh from USAID said health was one of Ambassador June Carter-Perry’s priorities.
She added that (AWARE)–RH project was focused on replicating five priority best practices, adding that those best practices were being implemented to address priority health issues including family planning and reproductive health, maternal and neonatal care and child survival – prevention treatment of childhood illness and malaria.
Giving the appalling health situation of especially women and children in Sierra Leone, she said it was a careful and deliberate decision to have the country as one of the initial 21 target countries in West Africa and central Africa that the AWARE-RH project had worked in.
She said, “the United States mission is particularly pleased that we can make significant contributions to improving health service delivery for women and children”.
The USAID representative noted that this was against the backdrop that the United States’ government was very much engaged in improving global health and was currently funding and implementing initiatives to reflect its interest through such mechanisms like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria.
Giving a brief presentation of AWARE-RH, Dr Simon Nchifor said AWARE-RH was launched in 2003 as a regional programme containing a unique initiative that engaged West African countries in the building of mechanisms for national level commodity security planning. He added that AWARE-RH had been supplying contraceptive commodities under the Family Health and HIV/AIDS (FHA) Project as part of its support to Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’ Ivoire, and Togo.
Participants were drawn from the Gambia, Ghana, Senegal and Mali.