During a National Advisory Forum organized by the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) Programme, implemented by Crown Agents in collaboration with World Hope International and FOCUS 1000, malaria and malnutrition were identified as the leading causes for child mortality in Sierra Leone.
The Forum took place at the National Conference Center, Bintumani Hotel, Freetown and was attended by the Deputy Minister of Health, Hon. Prof. Charles Senesie and representatives from WHO, UNICEF and CDC. It aimed to increase collaboration amongst key stakeholders and generate more data to influence legislation.
At 11.1%, Sierra Leone’s child mortality rate is amongst the highest in the world: per 1,000 live births, 111 children die.
Deputy Minister of Health, Hon. Prof. Charles Senesie, confirmed that the data released will be used to inform policy and legislation at national level. Whilst he noted that the rates of child mortality in the country had been going down, he added that the Government was committed to stay on this trajectory by using the findings generated by CHAMPS.
Dr. Ikechukwu Ogbuanu, CHAMPS Site Director in Sierra Leone, said in an interview with the news channel SLBC:
Bed nets are distributed, anti-malaria medication is available, healthcare is free. Malaria-induced deaths of children are preventable, and so are those caused by malnutrition. Sierra Leone has plenty of land which can be used for farming. However, sometimes families sell their produce and buy low quality food instead.”
Country Director of Crown Agents Sierra Leone, Habiba Wurie, implored stakeholders to increase the amount of pathologists, so more data can be generated to spur action by policymakers and the international aid community.
Looking ahead, CHAMPS Sierra Leone plans to continue working with the Ministry of Health and other partners to push for policy reform and explore more collaborative opportunities to scale up Data-to-Action initiatives.
Since 2017, CHAMPS has been instrumental in using surveillance data to reduce cases of under-five child mortality and stillbirths. The CHAMPS network operates in South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Pakistan.