Sierra Leone’s new national five-year strategy aims to help reduce child and maternal deaths in the Commonwealth country of Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone’s new national five-year strategy aims to help reduce child and maternal deaths in the Commonwealth country of Sierra Leone.
The Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) policy was introduced on November 6, 2017 and is being supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Its development has also received financial and technical support from the H6 Global Health Partnership, which includes UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank Group.
The strategy aims to reduce maternal and child death rates by 45% and 55% respectively by 2021, in order to bring the country in line to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It outlines a number of areas for further action, including improving access to services like family planning, preventing teenage pregnancy, emergency obstetric and neonatal care, managing newborn and childhood illnesses in hospital and primary care, nutrition, water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) and strengthening the quality of care offered overall within the health system.
Sierra Leone has among the highest maternal and child mortality rates globally, as well as high rates of teenage pregnancy.
Recent UN figures suggest that almost 6% of women in Sierra Leone die from maternal causes, and the under-5 mortality rate is 1 in 9 children.
It has, however, registered some progress in key areas of reproductive, child and maternal health.
Lifesaving vaccines to tackle leading infectious diseases are reaching more pregnant women and children than ever.
Attendance at four or more pregnancy check-ups increased 20% over the previous strategy period, malaria treatment increased from 30% to 48%, and levels of stunting among children under five years are estimated to have reduced from 37% to 29%.
Dr Santigie Sesay, Director of Reproductive and Child Health in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, said: “Our new RMNCH strategy outlines practical interventions to save lives, improve the quality of care offered at our health facilities, address underlying causes of ill health and help ensure women, children and youth not only survive but also thrive and transform their communities.
“This ambitious agenda will not be realized without the active support and engagement of our community champions, health workers at all levels, District Health Management Teams, the media, other Ministries, NGOs, the private sector, and our development partners and communities themselves.”
Alexander Chimbaru, Officer-in-Charge of WHO Sierra Leone, said: “WHO is proud to have supported the country in developing this strategy together with our partners, but we are also aware that this is just the beginning.
“Everyone from communities to health workers, policy makers and the international community, has a role to play now in implementing the strategy, and ensuring women, children and youths are accessing quality health services that save lives.”
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