FOCUS 1000 contributes to the generation and use of evidence on maternal and newborn health (MNH) in Sierra Leone. We conduct research to address gaps in existing data while providing qualitative, contextualized understanding of barriers and boosters to MNH related programming. Part of this work involves the monitoring and evaluation of programs and initiatives to ascertain what works and what doesn’t within specific sociocultural and geographic settings. In doing so, we actively engage government, development partners and civil society to foster collective learning and adoption of evidence-based practices and policies.
FOCUS 1000 advocates with duty bearers – such as national and local government, parliamentarians, and community leaders – for increased commitment, resources, and enactment/enforcement of laws and policies that support the wellbeing of the child during the first 1000 days. Our advocacy efforts include strengthening the role of civil society in scaling-up nutrition and immunization, prohibiting child marriage/teenage pregnancy, and improving water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions. As a member of the Health Sector Steering Group (HSSG), we advocate with government and development partners to enhance civil society participation in health systems strengthening.
Working with a range of development partners, we focus on enhancing the capacity of civil society organizations engaged in nutrition, immunization, health systems strengthening, and other related areas. Part of these efforts aim to improve the coordination of civil society activities including harmonization of messages, development of joint-advocacy initiatives, and mobilizing communities to take collective action. Furthermore, we conduct capacity development trainings for journalists and religious leaders – two critical groups in Sierra Leone – on the use of accurate maternal and newborn health information.
We mobilize civil society and grassroots organizations into a united force for child survival and development through the Kombra Network. We support Kombra Helpers to bridge the gap between communities and the health care delivery system – especially in rural parts of the country. They interact directly with community members and Peripheral Health Unit (PHU) staff in order to increase the utilization of essential maternal and newborn health services – such as antenatal care and institutional delivery by skilled attendants. Kombra Helpers are being trained to register pregnant and lactating women and children under age 2, provide health education, and social support.