– UNICEF Country Representative
UNICEF Country Representative in Sierra Leone, Dr. Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim has revealed that from 1990-2017; Sierra Leone has experienced a significant reduction in under-five child mortality from 262 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 119 per 1,000 live births in 2017. He, however, stated that there is need to accelerate more efforts to further reduce child mortality in the country which is one of the benchmarks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He made the statement at the launch of the Sub-National Maternal and Child Health Week popularly known as “Mammie EnPikinWelbodi Week” at the CCSL Compound, King Harman Road last Friday
Mr. El-Bashir attributed the reduction in under 5 child mortality to evidence-based and cost effective immunization interventions like Vitamin A Supplementation, De-worming with Albendazole,Measles and Polio Marklate (Vaccine) which have not only prevented childhood diseases and by extension mortality in under-fives, but also morbidity, adding that immunization in under 5s prevents childhood illness, disability, and death from vaccines preventable diseases such as Measles, Pertussis( whooping Cough),Pneumonia, Polio and Diarrhea to name but a few.
He reiterated that Global Evidence has proven that biannual Vitamin A supplementation can improve immune system, disease suspect ability to diseases, prevent vitamin A deficiency and reduce child mortality by up to 20-30%
While dilating on the benefits of the interventions, Mr. El-Bashir stated that a country like Sierra Leone where many communities remain to be more than an hour walk from the nearest health facility, community-based approaches of delivering essential child survival and development interventions through outreaches and campaigns can ensure that all children are benefiting from these crucial health and nutrition services, adding that this become even more effective when it is complemented by intensified Social Mobilization and Awareness Raising Activities to educate the public on the benefits of these health interventions and address socio-cultural beliefs and barriers preventing uptake of these services, be it during campaigns or Routine Immunization at the health facility.
He referenced that in April 2018, a Polio campaign integrated with Vitamin A supplementation and de-worming services was organized which allowed the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to reach 90% of under-five children with Vitamin A capsule, Deworming Tablet and Polio Vaccine, which he noted as a remarkable achievement.
In his rounding-up statement, the UNICEF Country Representative urged all Social Mobilizers, Vaccinators, and both zonal and district supervisors to perseveres in the next 4 days of the “Mammie EnPikin Welbodi Week” to inform parents and care givers on the benefits of these interventions and ensure that they cover more possible grounds to reach and provide ALL eligible children, mothers and pregnant women with the appropriate campaign interventions.
“Let us leave no stone unturned and leave no mother and children behind” Mr. El-Bashir Urged health workers.