By Ibrahim Sorie Koroma
Ministry of Health and Sanitation, in collaboration with its partners, on Friday 13th October 2023, engaged Paramount Chiefs from the Southern Region at the One World Link Conference Hall in Boy City, on the Sierra Leone 2023 ITNs Mass Distribution Campaign, scheduled to kick-start in Bo District, as a pilot.
The main purpose of the engagement was to orientate traditional authorities from the south on the upcoming Insecticide Treated Mosquito Net Distribution Campaign, thereby soliciting their support and commitment to achieving the desired goal/outcome of the campaign and ensuring ownership, especially in the area of reviving/enforcing byelaws on ITNs misuse at community level.
Talking about the need to strengthen collaboration with Traditional Leaders, the National Malaria Control Programme Manager, Dr Abdul Mac Falama, emphasized the role of community stakeholders, including PCs, in achieving the campaign goal of reaching 95% of households with key messages on the ITNs campaign, a target, which he stated cannot be achieved without strong partnership and collaboration with traditional authorities.
He reiterated that the MoH and partners will be distributing over 5.3 million ITNs nationwide between October 2023 – and February 2024, adding that the campaign will be digitalized for the first time in Sierra Leone, in which household registration and distribution of ITNs will be done, using android mobile phones and other communication technologies to record data in real-time.
Dr. Mac Falama furthered that the campaign will kick-start in Bo as a Pilot phase, and registration of households will be done and vouchers given to household heads to claim their ITNs at the distribution points, starting Tuesday 17th – Thursday 26th October 2023, as well as national launching scheduled for October 3rd, adding that distribution of tents is also scheduled to start on Saturday 4th – Friday 10th October 2023 in Bo district. He clarified that the idea of doing the pilot in Bo was a result of the fact that Bo is one of the districts with a high malaria burden, which better placed it for a test case – a learning point for possible roll-out to the other 15 districts in January 2024.
Paramount Chief (PC) John Russell Nyama II of Lower Banta Chiefdom in Moyamba District, committed and assured that they will utilize their traditional structures and networks to disseminate the message on the ITNs’ mass distribution campaign, with special emphasis on penalties and the need to enforce byelaws on ITNs’ misuse. He called on his fellow PCs to own the campaign, as malaria is no respecter of status, and catches everyone, and one way to prevent it is by first, accessing the net and using it properly, an opportunity which he said the MoH is planning to give them. “Let us grab it fast and own it, because if our subjects are sick with malaria, can we farm? Can our children go to school?” PC Russell Asked.
Other PCs from the south, like Richard Hindolo Gbenga ofBagbwe Chiefdom in Bo District, Hon. PC Matilda Minah of Y.K.K. Chiefdom in Pujehun District and PC Ruth FawunduSonga of Gbo Chiefdom, joined Chief Russell to reemphasize their commitment to support the ITNs campaign for an improved outcome.