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 ‘We are vulnerable to Malaria’

- Program Manager

June 7, 2017 By Emmanuel Okyne

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Dr. Samuel Smith making his speech during the launch in Makeni

Program Manager of the National Malaria   Control Programme in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, has stated that Sierra Leoneans were vulnerable to malaria disease.

Dr. Samuel Juana Smith was speaking during the official launch of the Maternal and Child Health Week in Makeni, last Thursday, (June 1).

He disclosed that according to World Malaria Report, Sierra Leone is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than a quarter of the population is infected with the disease.

He added that three out of ten Sierra Leoneans were suffering from the disease, while disclosing that 4.3 million treated mosquito bed nets will be distributed across the country from June 1 to 10.

According to him, malaria contributes an estimated twenty percent of child mortality, with the cause of nearly four in ten hospital consultations country wide.

He said pregnant women were at particular risk from malaria, which contributes to high rates of miscarriage, pre-mature births and low weights.

“We have recruited over 25,000 community workers to carry out the ten days of free distribution of treated bed nets in the 149 chiefdoms. Our target is to reach 95% of households across the country,” he said.

In his keynote address, Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh, stressed the importance of maternal and child health week and distribution of long lasting insecticide treated bed nets to the welfare of children under-five years and pregnant women.

He said the welfare of children and women remain central to the government’s development agenda, adding that the future of every country is tied to the survival of children.

While recognizing challenges in strengthening the health sector in preventing future epidemics and saving at least 600 women and 5000 children from preventable deaths, Vice President Foh opined that controlling maternal deaths, death from malaria and other child illnesses, as articulated in the human development pillar of the Agenda for Prosperity and by extension, the health component of the sustainable Development Goals was paramount.

Country Representative of  United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Geoff Wiffin, said  despite all efforts made so far, the burden of malaria  in Sierra Leone  still remains  unacceptably high, noting that malaria indicator  survey 2016  shows  that 40 percent  of under five children have malaria  every year.

He said such trend calls for more actions to reach every mother and child in Sierra Leone to improve the situation, adding that the 2017 campaign should lead to major boost to the challenges ahead.

Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abubakarr Fofanah, said  the ministry’s aim was to achieve universal coverage  when it comes  to the use of mosquito net  by  2017, with the target of at least  80 percent  of families  sleeping  inside  the treated mosquito nets.

He urged beneficiaries not to use the nets for fishing, packaging of their domestic goods as those found wanting will face the full force of the law.

Paramount Chief Bai Shebora Kassangha II of Bombali Shebora Chiefdom, thanked donor partners for the nationwide mass campaign and distribution of long lasting insecticide bed nets, as according to him, such a campaign will create the awareness needed for effective use of the bed nets.