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Sierra Leone moves to reduce Underage Deaths

HomeHealthSierra Leone moves to reduce Underage Deaths

Sierra Leone moves to reduce Underage Deaths

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The Sierra Leone Ministry of Health has unveiled a Child Health Action Plan designed to reduce deaths among under five children.

The Child Health Action Plan 2023-2025, according to officials of the Health Ministry, is also designed to safeguarding children’s wellbeing.

Minister of Health, Dr. Austin Demby acknowledged progress made in the sector over the past years, including reduction in child mortality rate from 264 deaths per 1000 live births to 105 per 1000 live births.

He said that the target of the ministry and its is further reduce the death of under five  children, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio, improving healthcare stands as a cornerstone of our national agenda for human capital development,” Dr. Demby stated.

He underscored the country’s preparedness to achieve reduction in maternal mortality rates to less than 71 per 1000 by 2025.

The Minister highlighted ten action points to redefine the narrative attached to childhealth, ranging from ensuring that children have access to life-saving vaccinations, with focus on the new Malaria vaccine, to reporting of child deaths and conducting regular review of all child death cases. He added that the Ministry also seeks to increase funding allocation, mobilize resources which align donor efforts with the life stages approach, and foster collaboration among line ministries to address the holistic needs of children among others.

The other call-to-action points he mentioned are prioritizing investments in both primary and secondary healthcare infrastructure, promoting community engagement and behavioural change initiatives, support the training and retention of health professionals, ensuring adequate paediatric expertise across all health facilities, implementing incentives to retain skilled health workers in rural areas and establishing state-of-the-art paediatric centres in each regional hospital.

Dr. Lynda Farma-Grant, Program Manager, National Child Health Program, explained that that the focus of the Child Survival Action Plan called for collective action in a bid to push forward the cause of child health. She mentioned that 70% of child deaths occurred in post neonatal period, noting that most these deaths are preventable. Dr. Farma-Grant also astated that Malaria, HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malnutrition remain the leading causes of child mortality in Sierra Leone.

But she adddd that regardless of the challenges of child health Sierra Leone grapples with, active engagement in implementing child healthcare programs mark the significant step in prioritizing ongoing efforts.

Rudolf Schwenk from UNICEF said that the Child Survival Action Plan provides a roadmap to accelerate progress towards the SDG target 25 and tp reduce deaths among children under five by 2030.

While recognizing prevailing challenges facdd by the Health Ministry, Mr Schwenk stressed that with strong partnership and collaborative efforts with key stakeholders, these bottlenecks could be overcome.

Schwenk reiterated that access to immunization serves as a support to building community health systems, improving supply chains, data systems and disease surveillance. “The expansion of Special Baby Care Units in 16 hospitals in 14 districts has helped to save many lives,” he observed.

 

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