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FEATURE

2030 malaria goal:One million under five children get malaria yearly

March  2, 2020

By Elizabeth A. Kaine

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr the mayor of Freetown City has said that in Sierra Leone, 2.24 million people will be at an outpatient department all over the country for malaria treatment every year. ‘Out of this’ she added ‘one million of them will be under the age of 5’.

Around the world, 90% of malaria cases she says are in African and Sierra Leone is considered to have the highest cases of malaria which means that the country has a lot to do in order to be malaria free by the stipulated time frame as malaria prevalence is more higher in the rural settings with over 50% and about 25% in urban settings.

Malaria has been reported to be the highest killer of people in the country over the past years. Though patients have been complaining of lack of drugs in government health facilities and been asked for money to undertake the test, the ministry of health has insists that malaria treatment nationwide is free.

Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease according to the medical journal “The Lancet” that targets malaria elimination in Sierra Leone and across African which they believe is achievable relatively.

According Jasper  Smith a malaria patient, says that he is not going to a government hospital because the last time he went there, he was asked to pay for  malaria treatment which he know that no one she pay for it as it should be free .

‘I am going to the pharmacy to get my drugs because, I don’t have the money that will be requested for, by the health workers at government hospitals for consultation, test and drugs. Though government is saying the treatment is free but by my experience, the treatment is not free at all’ he added.

Augusta Foday the Malaria Focal Person for the Western Area Urban said that the Ministry of Health has adopted a strategy in order to bring treatment as close to the households as possible which is part of their Community Case Management of Malaria; the strategy includes providing emergency malaria treatment for patients.

Foday further says ‘in order to increase awareness and stimulate demand for malaria prevention and treatment through education and communication, materials will be developed and disseminated to various groups throughout the country with the aim of creating demand and social and behavior change’ she noted.

Following the United Nations Secretary General’s call for 100% coverage of malaria control interventions and the elimination of malaria, the government of Sierra Leone has moved from targeting of malaria control to the universal coverage of eliminating malaria.

A participatory approach that is fully aligned with the WHO’s recommendations for development of strategic plans was adopted as the National Malaria Control Strategic Plan 2016-2020.

Director of Disease Control and Prevention at the Ministry of Health Dr. Samuel Smith says citizen have the right to access highly effective malaria preventative and curative services that is delivered to households and people should not be dying of malaria as it is a preventable disease.

‘The Ministry of Finance should prioritize malaria reduction by increasing budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Health and the National Malaria Control Program for the elimination of malaria in the country by 2030’ Dr Smith stress adding that ‘our ministry is trying by all means through a functional resilient national health system to deliver safe, efficient and high quality health care services to treat malaria’.

While Sierra Leone’s Health Budget has been increasing in the past ten years, the national health budget remains at 12% (2013) which is less than the 15% recommended by Abuja Declaration 2000. This implies that the domestic contribution for malaria prevention and control in Sierra Leone is minimal according to the ministry.

Malaria Dr. Smith says is endemic in the country and the entire population is at risk of being infection as the disease is one of the main causes of deaths and illnesses in the country as people continue to die of malaria.

Sierra Leone with a population of 7.5 million is a high burden country in which the entire population is at risk of malaria and with pregnant women and children under-five years being the most vulnerable.

According to the Health Management Information system data source of the Ministry of health and sanitation in 2018, Sierra Leone recorded and reported 1,781,855 cases and 1,949 deaths from the disease for all age categories (Adolescent, children and Adults).

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