Four out of 10 children that visit hospitals in Sierra Leone have malaria, according to Malaria Programme Manager of Ministry of Health, Dr. Samuel Smith at a recent press briefing in the country.
In addition, Dr. Smith said Sierra Leone has one of the highest malaria mortality rates in the world with 156 deaths per 1000 people.
He said children under five are prone to severe malaria infection due to lack of acquired immunity. “For about six months following birth, antibodies acquired from the mother during pregnancy protect the child, but this maternal immunity is gradually lost when the child starts to develop his/her own immunity to malaria.”
This has prompted officials to distribute bednets. “The use of bed nets is one way of preventing malaria and we have been distributing these nets to protect our children and mothers from contracting malaria”, Smith said.
Around 4.3 million treated mosquito bed nets will be distributed during a nationwide, door-to-door, mass distribution campaign between 1-10 June 2017 by the National Malaria Control Programme of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
In addition under the Maternal and Child Health Week (MCH) platform, officials will also give free administration of Vitamin A and deworming with Albendazole to children under five years of age.
Sandra Lattorf, the Deputy UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone, said, “Sierra Leoneans should use the bed nets to save lives, because every single family must have a bed net to sleep under.” According to Lattorf, “Vitamin A will help save the lives of our children and the deworming pills will help give children enough strength and appetite so they will grow well and eat enough.” She continued, “The medication and the bed nets are all free and we hope that every family in the country will have at least one bed net and that their children and mothers will sleep inside the nets.”
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