Sierra Leone has recorded reductions in infant, child and maternal mortality rates as a result of the free national health program for pregnant and lactating women and children under five years. Malnutrition remains a major challenge, as the health system is not able to meet the demands of a growing population.
We address chronic malnutrition by promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, supporting health and nutrition education for pregnant women and mothers, and providing blanket feeding for children under two and lean season feeding to vulnerable households. USAID is collaborating with stakeholders to develop a coordinated approach to improved agricultural production, nutrition practices, breastfeeding and food supplementation.
USAID builds the capacity of both health staff and community health workers to deliver health care in critical areas such as neonatal and childhood illness, reproductive health, infant and young child feeding, acute malnutrition and growth monitoring. Instances of water-borne disease are reduced by providing bio-sand filters in health centers, rehabilitating wells and toilets, and promoting hygiene education.
Sierra Leone's estimated HIV prevalence rate is 1.6 percent. To combat HIV/AIDS, we collaborate with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to strengthen capacity for effective HIV/AIDS laboratory services and disease surveillance. Through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) that offers serology, molecular, and microbiology laboratory services has been established.
Negelcted Tropical Diseases
In partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone, USAID is also working to end neglected tropical diseases such as river blindness, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, and soil helminthes, through school health campaigns, support for strategic planning, training, prevention and mass treatment. To date 3.9 million persons have been treated for lymphatic filariasis and soil helminthes in the 12 provincial districts reaching 80 percent coverage, and 1.3 million persons have been treated for these diseases in the western area reaching 79 percent coverage.
USAID also funds specialized surgeries for women with fistula, training of surgeons and nurses for fistula operations and post-operative care, and awareness campaigns for prevention and treatment. The programs facilitate the economic reintegration of women with fistula into their communities through skills training and start-up grants after recovery.
Last updated: May 10, 2013