He expressed determination that child survival and maternal issues take a central stage in the country’s national health sector strategic plan and welcome PMI for including Sierra Leone as part of the initiative. The president pointed out that the PMI will immensely close the gap in the implementation of the strategies and activities set out in the country’s National Malaria Control Strategic Plan 2016-2020, adding that the PMI is projected to strengthen the government to reduce malaria illness and deaths with a long term aim of eliminating the disease.
Giving statistics on the death toll of malaria globally, President Koroma noted that no child should die of malaria - a disease that is preventable and treatable. He expressed optimism that the PMI’s fund will accelerate research, development and the evaluation of new tools to fight the scourge of malaria. Amid the challenges in fighting malaria, the president said the country has achieved remarkable success in malaria control initiatives with a prevalence rate dropping from 68% in 1948 to 40% in 2016, reported deaths due to malaria in children in communities, hospitals is decreasing. “Malaria deaths and illness rate are no longer comparable to what the situation was ten years ago, the numbers have reduced substantially,” he stated. He called for concerted efforts with health development partners and urged the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) to stand up against those who want to put their hard work in bad light, saying that government will be unsympathetic to anyone who undermines the good work of government in providing quality health care for its people.
Making her statement, the United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone Maria Brewer said the fight against malaria was as a result of common humanity and responsibility to protect children and families from a cruel disease. She stated that fighting malaria is one of the smartest investments to protect health, create opportunities and foster growth and security. To save lives that are being threatened by the scourge of malaria, the U.S. ambassador said PMI will work with the MOHS, work with communities, case management, build capacity, monitoring and evaluation, support delivery of insecticide treated bed nets to household, particularly to expecting mothers and new-borns to protect them from malaria among others.
She called for increased engagement with the private sector and innovative approaches that will hasten the eradication of malaria and acknowledged the government of Sierra Leone, health workers and partners for their tireless efforts to improving and expanding malaria related services and looked forward with great positivity the multiplier effects that PMI will have in Sierra Leone.
In his address, the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Abu Bakarr Fofanah said in 2013 President Koroma made the request for the United States to include Sierra Leone in the PMI. He said even though gains have been made in combating the disease, he urged that more work is needed in scaling up the fight against the disease.