Northern Bureau ChiefThe only workable solution in a situation where levied apprehensions are genuinely factual, is to avoid the shifting of blames, accept the faults, refrain from the odds and forge ahead with the established principles. This is precisely the case in Port Loko, where the District is said to have a leading percentage of Malaria Prevalence. As deduced from an overview presented by the District Medical Officer –Dr. Tom Sesay, Port Loko has the highest prevalence of Malaria- the disease that causes about 40 percent of Child Deaths in Sierra Leone. He attributed this to the improper use of the ‘Long
Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets’ which are often distributed to Households by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation on free basis.
The Port Loko District Medical Officer made the disclosure at the occasion of the Official Health Fair Launch of the Maternal and Child Health Week, otherwise known as the ’Mammi en Pikin Welbodi Week.
Dr. Tom Sesay used the occasion to explain how Malaria is the leading cause of illnesses and deaths in the Country. He said Malaria is caused by Mosquito bites which can be prevented by keeping a clean environment and sleeping under these Treated Bed Nets. He spoke of the 10 days Campaign during which the Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets [LLINs] or Mosquito Nets will be distributed to every Household as well as the administering of Vitamin A Capsule to Children between 6 -39 Months and Deworming Tablets or Albendazole to Children between 12- 59 Months.
Dr. Tom Sesay said the aim is to reduce Malaria and improve the Health condition of the People of Sierra Leone by 40 percent against the year 2020. He however observed that the achievement of such goals will be farfetched if people continue with the improper use of the Bed Nets. He made a particular reference to certain places in the District where people are using the Nets as Goalposts, Fishing Nets, fence Backyard Gardens and tie Mango Bags and other items that are being transported to Market Areas.
He therefore admonished all to refrain from these improper ways of using Bed Nets as it gives a bad impression to those who contribute in the provision of such facilities. He further cautioned those who are in the habit of making multiple demands of Bed Nets, stressing that the maximum number per Household is 3.
Similar concerns were registered by several other Speakers including the Deputy Director of Nutrition- Solade Pyne Boiley, the National Supervisor- Sr. Mansallay and the Mitigation Specialist from UNICEF –Victor who spoke on behalf of the UN Family. Even though they were impressed by the huge turnout and participation of Community Health Workers, yet they would be glad to see the proper use of the facilities. In their separate statements, they said their purpose is to ensure that the proper things are done.
This appeared to be in response to the fears expressed by Ya Posseh Kamara- the Chairlady of the Market Women in Port Loko who doubles as the oldest women in the gathering. She pointed out that the Health Workers themselves are sometimes not fair enough in the distribution of Bed Nets. Her fears were further allayed by the Local Unit Commander at the Port Loko Police Station- Superintendent Augustine Saidu Patrick Lakoh, who said the exercise will be thoroughly monitored to avoid any foul play.
The keynote address was delivered by the Deputy Chairman of the Port Loko District Council- Councillor Ibrahim Santigie Bangura. He was of the conviction that a lot of dignitaries have come in the name of Supervisors largely because they want to ascertain that the People of Port Loko are indeed not making proper use of the Bed Nets.
He said the practise is bad and there can hardly be any convincing excuse rather than to assure that the practise is stopped forthwith. He however went on to inform the gathering that the Port Loko District Health Management Team [DHMT] has continued to make tremendous efforts in ensuring the Health Situation in the District is improved.
He explained how they do conduct a review of the Health activities in the District to determine the way forward. While commending the support of the United Nations Family and other Partners in making the occasion so remarkable, he assured that the District will now shape up and refrain from the aforementioned odds. He said the Local and Traditional Authorities have long been co-opted for a workable solution. Councillor Bangura said bye laws have been set up to discourage the improper use of Bed Nets. The ceremony was chaired by Madam Patricia Forki Sonkoi one of the leading activists in the District.
Below are pictures obtained on the occasion of the launch of this 10 day Programme to help you have a feel of how things went out here…….