…Deputy programme Manager
September 3, 2020
By Elizabeth A. Kaine
Deputy Programme Manager of the National Malaria Control Program at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Alhaji Sayni Turay, has stated that malaria is more dangerous and kills more than any other disease in Sierra Leone and the world as whole.
He was speaking during a meeting on Tuesday, 1st September, at Catco Hotel, organised by Speak Up African-the leading Africa advocacy network that has been working for the past 10 years to put an end to Malaria in African.
He stated that the number of deaths and the incidents of malaria were increasing in the country despite the many interventions of partner organizations.
He said they believe that with the emergence of Speak Up African, they were hopeful that the organization will help in decreasing the incidence and malaria related deaths to zero, like it is in other countries.
He said government through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, was working with its international partners and that they were taking the campaign very seriously to eliminate malaria from the Sierra Leone and the Africa continent.
He disclosed that every year a total of $15 million United States Dollars is given to Sierra Leone as support towards malaria control, noting that not all of that money goes into the ministry’s account.
He said bulk of the 15 million United States Dollars goes to implementing partners to undertake various activities in the campaign.
Speaking at the meeting, Malaria Programme Officer for Speak Up African, James Wallen, said they have been working on four main health components including vaccination and immunization, sanitation, neglected tropical disease and malaria in their past 10 years of operations.
He said in 2013 they launched the idea of “Malaria Start With Me” campaign in Senegal as a national campaign with focus on three core principles including, driving the political will, private sector engagement, and that of community involvement to ensure everybody from all walks of life know and feel involved in the fight.
He continues that the campaign was embraced internationally by the African Union because of the success made in Senegal, and according to her, all 54 member states copied the campaign.
He said 15 member countries were so far implementing the campaign in their national program.
He said since February, 2019 when Sierra Leone launched it national “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” campaign into it national activities to date, lots has happened including tours to selected districts with message on the campaign, involvement of key players including government officials, musicians, community leaders with the central idea that every member of the society is important in the fight against malaria.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator for the Sierra Leone Health Reporters Network, Swaliho Vandi, thanked the government and all their partners including Speak Up African for partnering with them in ensuring that reporters are empowered to report professionally on all health-related issues.
He said bringing together journalists that have been reporting on health issues professionally was challenging, but with commitment among members they were able to establish the network and now they have partnered with Speak Up Africa.
He said there were a lot of challenges in reporting health issues, including skills, choice of language to be used, how to break some of the terms for the locals and other technical issues.
He urged government and colleague journalists to treat malaria with all seriousness by engaging communities, and bring out the correct pictures of health situations and put government on a positive footing in terms of it responding to all health related issues including malaria.
The Sierra Leone chapter of the Malaria Media Coalition has ended their second annual meeting on the “Zero Malaria Starts with me” campaign, which is part of the African Union’s (AU) focus on the elimination of malaria from the continent by 2030.
As part of the AU campaign targeting 2030 for the elimination of Malaria in African, Sierra Leone has been providing free malaria treatment at all health centers nationwide, provision of treated mosquitoes bed nets every three years to household.
According to the country’s Demographic Health survey for 2016-2020, malaria is still the leading cause of morbidity and mortality, describing it as an endemic with stable and perennial transmission accounting for 40 percent prevalence in the country.