CHAMPS, MoHs unveil findings on stillbirth and child death

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Deputy Minister of Ministry of Health, Dr. Charles Senessie, COM, MoH, and the Director of CHAMPS

By Ibrahim Kabba Turay

The Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) network, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, has unveiled early research findings and fostered collaborative discussions on reducing stillbirths and child deaths in Sierra Leone.

The 2023 CHAMPS National Advisory Forum was held on Wednesday, 29th November, 2023, at the Bintumani Conference Centre, Aberdeen in Freetown.

The theme for the event was “Call to Action: Use of CHAMPS Data for Action, Policy, and Research.”

The CHAMPS National Advisory Forum stands as a pivotal platform, uniting stakeholders in a dialogue to shape the future of child health in Sierra Leone. Participants delved into early research findings, explored collaboration avenues, and contributed insights to enhance the utilization of CHAMPS data for actionable measures.

CHAMPS is a global network that provides timely and accurate tracking of infectious and preventable causes of death for under-five. The organization was funded by the Gates Foundation with technical support from Emory University. CHAMPS intervention is jointly implemented in Sierra Leone by Crown Agents, World Hope International and Focus 1000, to help combat child mortality in Sierra Leone.

Making his keynote address, the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Charles Senessie expressed his delight for the data CHAMPS put together, stating that with data development can strive.

He said the research area, which was on stillbirth and death of children, is an issue which the ministry takes very seriously, adding that they will ensure they work with CHAMPS and other partners in making sure they succeed.

He continued that the challenge in most hospitals and clinics across the country is that health workers don’t go far in running test to ascertain the root causes  of children’s illness before they administer treatment to them.

He promised that they will continue to work with CHAMPS and their partners to see how they can help in solving the issue of the high rate of child’s death in the country.

He said they will continue to strengthen the health workers and make them effective in their work.

The Director of Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) in Sierra Leone, Dr. Ike Ogbuanu, said their aim is to determine and track the causes of under-five mortality and stillbirths through epidemiologic surveillance, including reporting within 24 hours, clinical sampling, and use of advanced laboratory testing and diagnostics across a network of international sites.

He said CHAMPS, which has been in Sierra Leone since 2016, their role is to look at children that are dying within 24 hours, to look at the reason why they are dying.

He said after they have discovered that a child has passed away, they will take the remains to the lab to know the root cause of the death.

He added that after they have established the root cause they will forward  the report  for the government to look into it.

He continued that CHAMPS is also working on how they can be able to solve the problem of why children are dying before their fifth year birthday, and that most of the time they find it difficult for mothers to allow them to take care of their dead child.

He said in Sierra Leone the rate at which children are dying is very high compared to other African countries.

He said the normal percentage is 30/1000, but in Sierra Leone is that 121/1000 children die every year.

He said what they discovered was that more children are dying in some areas, and those deaths are not reported to the ministry of health, so they were working very hard to see how they can reduce the death rate in the country.

Dr Ike advised mothers to start giving their children good food so that they too can be healthy.

He also advised government to make child health a priority,although the ministry has created a child health program which will improve the death rate of children in Sierra Leone.

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