November 30, 2015 By Samuel Ben Turay
The Minister of Health and Sanitation has revealed that some 1.5 million under five children have benefitted from a successful national measles and malaria campaign across the country.
Dr. Abubakarr Fofanah, speaking last Thursday to the press said, “The campaign contributed to efforts exerted by the country to deal with the high rate of child and maternal mortality and for the country to reach the Millennium Development Goals,” said Dr. Fofanah.
The week-long campaign, which complemented routine immunisation services, deployed more than 10,000 volunteersin health centres, community health posts, vaccination points and referral hospitals across the country.
The volunteers provided a four-pronged package of intervention, including measles vaccination, distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets, vitamin A supplement to boost immunity and de-worming with Mebendazole tablets.
The health and sanitation minister said the initiative was launched by the government of Sierra Leone and supported by health partners in the country.
The mortality rate for children under five and mothers giving birth in the country is still high despite the efforts of the government. Malaria accounts for thirty-three per cent of all under-five deaths.
Despite the reported success of the vaccination initiative, Dr. Fofanah noted many children had missed out on routine vaccination services due to the Ebola outbreak. “With this campaign we can reduce the risk of measles and polio. In addition, high routine immunisation coverage is critical in boosting immunity in children against diseases such as measles and polio,” he maintained.
According to the health minister, who is himself a certified medico, vaccines are a safe way to boost protection against preventable diseases, adding that mass vaccination campaigns present special opportunity to reach out to targeted populations, particularly the under privileged and underserved communities, with essential lifesaving interventions.
“It is therefore critical for communities, especially their leadership, to ensure that all children in their communities are vaccinated against debilitating diseases. Let us work together to protect our children from measles, and let us safeguard them against polio by being an active partner in this campaign,” concluded Dr. Fofanah.