By Amin Kef (Ranger)
The United States and Sierra Leone have embarked on a significant partnership aimed at distributing five million insecticide-treated mosquito nets to combat the rampant spread of malaria in Sierra Leone. U.S. Ambassador Bryan Hunt, in collaboration with H.E. President Julius Maada Bio and Government officials, initiated this nationwide campaign in Bo, which began on November 3 and will continue throughout the month.
This campaign, supported by the United States through the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), represents a pivotal effort in the ongoing fight against malaria in Sierra Leone. The PMI has been working in collaboration with Sierra Leone since 2017, having contributed a total of $120 million towards malaria control and eradication. This long-standing partnership has facilitated the delivery of essential resources and support for the nation’s health services, ensuring the continuity of effective malaria services into 2023.
Malaria is a significant health challenge in Sierra Leone, with the entire population of 8.5 million people at risk. The World Health Organization estimates that malaria claims the lives of over 5,000 children under the age of 5 each year and poses life-threatening complications for pregnant women in the country.
Ambassador Bryan Hunt stressed the importance of using mosquito nets correctly and consistently to effectively prevent the spread of malaria. He urged every citizen to take responsibility for their health and the well-being of their families by utilizing the provided nets every night without fail. Ambassador Hunt commended Sierra Leone’s government for its steadfast commitment to malaria elimination and expressed the importance of long-term, action-oriented approaches to public health.
The United States, through PMI funding and USAID programs, has provided millions of bed nets, fast-acting medicines, malaria test kits, and preventive treatment doses to Sierra Leone since 2018. Additionally, indoor residual spraying has been conducted in key districts, protecting over 600,000 Sierra Leoneans. Over the past year, more than 28,800 health workers received training to enhance their capacity to detect and treat malaria, contributing to a stronger healthcare system in the country.
Ambassador Bryan Hunt emphasized the interconnectedness of Sierra Leone’s democracy and prosperity with the health of its population. He highlighted the historic progress made in combatting malaria through the PMI partnership, which has delivered millions of bed nets, rapid tests, and treatment doses, resulting in a remarkable 22% reduction in total child mortality since 2017.
The decline of malaria in Sierra Leone has also been attributed to the government’s commitment to improving health services access through the installation of community health posts, with support from the United States. These efforts have led to more children being tested and receiving life-saving treatment for malaria.
Ambassador Hunt noted that while significant progress has been made, there is still work to be done to eradicate malaria completely. He stressed the need for a comprehensive societal approach and encouraged all Sierra Leoneans to take personal responsibility for their health, emphasizing the proper and consistent use of mosquito nets and seeking immediate treatment for fevers at health posts or government health centers.
In closing, Ambassador Hunt expressed his admiration for Sierra Leone’s commitment to controlling and eliminating malaria. He pledged the United States’ continued support in this vital endeavor to achieve zero malaria in Sierra Leone while working towards a prosperous and democratic future for all its citizens.