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Sierra Leone News: Sightsavers donates vehicles to MoHS

Governments across the world face difficult challenges in meeting their populations’ health needs, and this is especially the case in low income country like Sierra Leone, which is faced with economic and human resource constraints and a dire need to respond to communicable health threats.
There are 39 million blind people in the world, but 80% of blindness can be cured or prevented. That’s 31.2 million people who are blind when they needn’t be.
In Sierra Leone, river blindness is widely distributed across the country and co-endemic in 12 of the 14 health districts. When Sierra Leone was included as part of the Onchocerciasis Control Programme (OCP) of WHO in 1989, treatment strategy for onchocerciasis control included aerial larvicide using helicopters and aircrafts targeting the breeding sites of the blackflies. National Onchocerciasis Control Programme (NOCP) records show that by 1994 annual biting rates of the savannah blackfly population dropped from the 1988 pre-treatment level of 60 bites/person/day to 1 bite/person/day and the community microfilaria load decreased by over 90%.
However, Sightsavers Sierra Leone has been doing a lot in the area of eye health and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
On Monday, Sightsavers had its bi-annual partners meeting at the Njala Venue at Aberdeen and donated two Land Cruiser vehicles, motorbikes and computers to the Ministry of Health to facilitate eye care and mass drug administration for onchocerciasis (commonly known as “river blindness”, is caused by the parasitic worm) to the least communities.
Sightsavers Sierra Leone Country Office, Programme Manager, Emrica King, explained that Sight Savers normally work with partners. “We have partners in education and eye health and the Neglected Tropical Disease oncho programme.”
She said, “After having worked from January to June we often have our bi-annual meeting with partners and deliberate on the past six month, share experiences, document lesson learnt and put down recommendations for the next six month.”
The Programme Manager disclosed, “We’ve just received funding from Irish Aid we also have just signed the programme funding agreement between Sight Savers and Ministry of Health and the partners, the partners being the eye care projects in the South, East, West and North and also that of the Neglected Tropical Disease programme.”
She said they’ve signed an agreement with partners “documenting our roles and responsibilities for the two projects the universal eye health and the elimination of onchocerciasis in Sierra Leone.”
King also said that Sightsavers have been working with partners over 50 years and “we’ve had several projects we’ve just concluded European Union and the Standard Chartered Bank eye care project. We thought fit that based on lessons learned there is dire need for transportation for these project that is the eye care and the oncho project, because of that in the proposal we requested the donors to buy two vehicles that is two land cruisers one for the eye care project and the other for the oncho project to enable work in the districts.”
“So for eye care we have 14 motorbikes which is donated to the District Medical Officers(DMOs) for the focal points and also the NTDs likewise have 12 bikes to deal… with the 12 districts upcountry.”
Sightsavers Sierra Leone Country Director, Nancy Smart, explained that the universal eye health and the elimination of onchocerciasis in Sierra Leone project is a new project and it is being funded by Irish Aids with a five-year life span. “This project is being implemented in four countries Sierra Leone Cameroon Liberia and Senegal,” she said.
OG/15/8/17
By Ophaniel Gooding
Wednesday August 16, 2017.

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