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The Government of Japan donates over US$ 2 Million to reduce child and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone

Targeting under-fives, pregnant women and women of childbearing age nationwide

FREETOWN, 28 November 2007 - The Government of Japan donated US$ 2,249,751 for “Infectious Diseases Prevention” prevention in children under five years, pregnant women and women of childbearing age in six of the thirteen districts in Sierra Leone.

Child and maternal mortality is a major obstacle to human development in Sierra Leone. Even though immunization rates have slightly improved over the last two years from 46 per cent to 54 per cent, vaccine preventable diseases are still key contributors to very high infant and under-five mortality rates, which are  estimated at 267 per 1,000 live births. The maternal mortality rate is estimated at 1,300 per 100,000 live births.

The Japanese Government’s assistance is vital in supporting the Government of Sierra Leone and its partners in reducing child and maternal mortality by strategically strengthening the linkages with other programme interventions such as education and child protection.. According to the Japanese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E. Masamichi Ishikawa, “we must commend the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and partners such as UNICEF for the tremendous efforts made over the past four years in the resuscitation of health care delivery services nationwide. We are also ready to strengthen these laudable interventions and to play our part in redeeming Sierra Leone from its current unenviable position at the bottom of Human Development Index”.

The objective of the funding is to improve maternal and child health with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF as well as to develop a holistic approach to improve maternal and child health delivery service.  This will be achieved by:

  • providing free insecticide treated mosquito nets for malaria prevention
  • scaling up intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) for pregnant women
  • stepping up immunisation services for children 0- 59 months for vaccine preventable diseases
  • improving antenatal and postnatal care in both referral and peripheral health units
  • treating and prevention of malnutrition in children (provision of vitamin A supplementation) and pregnant women
  • strengthening the capacity of the health care delivery services in the provision of first level delivery services
  • training for monitoring and supervision
    In his remarks, the UNICEF Representative, Geert Cappelaere said “Sierra Leone’s attainment of the MDGs related to maternal and child health is a major priority for UNICEF and we are committed to support the government in every way possible to ensure that every child has access to free health care” Cappelaere added,  “If we are to achieve the MDGs, we must see children as our greatest investment”.

Tremendous efforts have been made in strengthening the health sector since the end of hostilities in 2002. The country’s referral and peripheral health units are fully functioning, the cold chain system has been revitalised with the introduction of solar powered refrigerators for vaccine preservation in accessible and remote areas, training of health personnel, monitoring of mortality and morbidity patterns and provision of essential of essential drugs. 

Receiving guests at the signing ceremony at the Deputy Minister of Finance and Development, Momodu Kargbo emphasised that “Government needs strong partnership not only in the health sector, but in its overall national development aspirations, such as the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) in order to make a difference in the lives of the women and children of this country”.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
Saira Khan, UNICEF New York: Tel + 212-326-7224, Email, sskhan@unicef.org




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