U.S. assistance is instrumental to implementation of Sierra Leone’s national health strategy. USAID’s activities strengthen Sierra Leone’s fragile health system and contribute to improvements in the delivery of quality health services at facilities across the country. The USAID health program in Sierra Leone also addresses key U.S. government priorities in technical areas such as maternal and child health, malaria, global health security, and neglected tropical diseases.
Maternal and Child Health, Family Planning and Reproductive Health
USAID works to maintain access to quality maternal, newborn, child health and voluntary family planning services. Efforts focus on improving quality of care, supporting prevention and treatment of maternal complications; strengthening infection control, ensuring the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygienic conditions, strengthening supply chain delivery at the last mile; and supporting demand creation and advocacy activities to increase the use of quality maternal, newborn, child health and voluntary family planning services.
In November 2017, Sierra Leone was selected as a focus country for the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). In partnership with the National Strategic Plan developed by Sierra Leone’s National Malaria Control Program, USAID supports implementation of key evidence-based malaria interventions including accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment; indoor residual spraying; entomological surveillance; improved access to insecticide-treated mosquito nets through procurement and distribution through mass campaigns and routine distribution channels; and intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women. In addition, PMI is working to improve the supply chain, increase the adoption of preventive and care-seeking behaviors, and strengthen surveillance systems.
Global Health Security
USAID collaborates with the Ministry of Health & Sanitation, Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry and implementing partners to strengthen the country’s capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to human and animal infectious disease threats. USAID’s ‘One Health’ interventions assess and address systemic risks at the interface of human, animal and environmental health. Key aspects of programming include strategic support for government coordination and response platforms, such as workforce training and laboratory capacity building, as well as research into known and unknown pathogen threats.
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Through the Act to End NTDs|West program, USAID is supporting the Government of Sierra Leone to continue achieving progress towards elimination or control of four endemic NTDs: lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and soil transmitted helminths. USAID’s support also seeks to integrate and mainstream the Sierra Leone NTD program into broader governmental systems, and ensure NTDs are included in policy, planning and financing processes.
USAID has worked with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation to provide a cumulative 130 million treatments through annual mass drug administration, benefiting over 5.2 million Sierra Leoneans. The program has been successful in reaching treatment coverage targets year after year. As a result, a number of districts have been able to successfully stop treatment for lymphatic filariasis.
Since the end of the Ebola crisis in 2016, USAID has worked closely with the Government of Sierra Leone and other donors to ensure that basic health services are accessible to those most in need, particularly women and children. In 2020, as the country faced the threat of COVID-19, coordination structures formerly established with U.S. Government resources during the Ebola outbreak were revitalized to support COVID-19 response efforts. Further USAID support to Sierra Leone’s national COVID-19 response includes procuring essential commodities for respiratory and case management support, risk communication and community outreach through tailored messages using various platforms, and infection prevention and control activities, such as supply of liquid hand sanitizers, hand washing stations, liquid hand washing soap, antibiotics, infusion fluids, face masks, and gloves. USAID support also includes vaccine procurement through the COVAX facility with J&J and Pfizer vaccines supplied in addition to procurement of 77 solar fridges and distribution support to PHUs, training and capacity building of healthcare providers for continuum of care during COVID-19, Provision of Technical Assistance for Coordination, Policy review, Fund Utilization, and overall health system support to maintain essential health services.