Health Minister Co-Hosts Child Survival Action Meeting

Dr. Austin Demby, the Minister of Health of Sierra Leone.jpg

By Foday Moriba Conteh

Dr. Austin Demby, the Minister of Health of Sierra Leone, co-hosted the Child Survival Action meeting and participated as a panelist at the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) event, held in conjunction with the World Health Assembly on Sunday 26 May 2024 at Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Demby shared Sierra Leone’s progress and experiences in child survival with African health ministers and global health partners during a high-level roundtable discussion focused on achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

PMNCH, a multi-constituency partnership chaired by Githinji Gitanji and hosted by the World Health Organization, aims to provide universal access to high-quality reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child healthcare.

This year’s engagement between high-level government officials and non-governmental organizations aimed to exchange experiences and strategies for improving maternal, newborn, and child healthcare.

Dr. Demby highlighted the significant strides made by Sierra Leone under President Julius Maada Bio’s leadership in reducing maternal and child mortality rates, as well as combating diarrhea, malaria, HIV, malnutrition, and other communicable diseases. He emphasized the government’s focus on human capital development, particularly in education, health, and agriculture, under the ‘Five-Game Changers’ initiative, with a strong commitment to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through Primary Healthcare (PHC).

“The Ministry of Health has declared maternal and child mortality an internal emergency and prioritized child health due to strong political will and commitment,” Dr. Demby stated. He noted that Sierra Leone’s Child Survival Action Plan (CSAP), developed in 2023 and launched globally in Madrid during the 2nd Global Pneumonia Forum in April 2023, was made possible through the collective efforts of health development partners, NGOs, and stakeholders.

Following the national launch of the CSAP in June 2023, regional launches and dissemination efforts have taken place nationwide. The Extended Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health and Nutrition Strategy, along with the Maternal and Newborn Health Acceleration Plan, established the National Child Health Programme (NCHP) under the Directorate of RMNCAH-N.

This program developed an annual work plan and formed a multi-sectoral National Child Health Technical Working Group, which meets monthly to address critical issues affecting children and promote evidence-based practices. The CSAP’s monitoring and evaluation framework has improved service access, significantly reducing under-five mortality from 1990 to 2023. Despite these advances, Dr. Demby acknowledged that Sierra Leone is among 59 countries needing accelerated progress to meet the SDG-3 target for under-five mortality by 2030.

“I advocate for increased investment in child health research and promotive, preventive, and curative measures. Only through these efforts can we realize long-term benefits for communities and countries. We are currently implementing our CSAP in a district and mobilizing partners and resources for nationwide implementation,” Dr. Demby noted.

Dr. Demby reiterated Sierra Leone’s commitment to protecting and promoting the health of children and women in pursuit of Universal Health Coverage.


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