FOCUS 1000 and it partners have started engaging Makeni city stakeholders on Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance.
FOCUS 1000 in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Centre for Disease Control, e-Health Africa, and the World Hope International have started series of eight community engagement workshops for stakeholders in 7 wards in Makeni City, Northern part of Sierra Leone.
One of the key objectives of the stakeholder workshop is to introduce CHAMPS as a program to the various stakeholders highlighting the different components of the project which include: death notification, verbal autopsy, clinical data abstraction and Minimal Invasive Tissue Sampling (MITS).
The stakeholder engagement have started showcasing CHAMPS activity align with that of other maternal and child health activities to ensure that children live a healthy life. In addition, the series of workshops would solicit support from community stakeholders who are the key decision makers and gate keepers to resources in their communities.
Community engagment in session at B and B Hall in Makeni City
The ultimate goal of engaging community stakeholders in Bombali District gear towards addressing the high rate of child mortality in the part of the country.
Brief project background
In a bid to reduce child mortality in Sierra Leone, the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) program seeks to provide better data about how, where and why young children are getting sick and dying. The overall goal is to collect robust, standardized data that can be shared across a range of partners and stakeholders to analyze and track the preventable causes of child mortality. The resulting data can be used to develop evidence-based policy, set priorities for research and inform the provision of much-needed vaccines and medicines.
A major component of CHAMPS’s work will be the use of a procedure called minimally invasive tissue sampling (MITS), which was developed to reduce the uncertainty regarding causes of death in low- and middle-income countries. The MITs would be conducted on children under five who die either at health facility.
Nonetheless, it is expected that the numerous cultural and religious beliefs about death and related practices that demonstrate faithful care for the body of a deceased loved one will undoubtedly impact community perceptions and beliefs about MITS in Bombali Shebora chiefdom which is the implementation site.
As the Social Behavioral Science (SBS) partner for the CHAMPS program, FOCUS 1000 is tasked with conducting formative research and community engagement. The formative research aims to evaluate the feasibility (i.e. acceptability, practicality and implementation) and ethical considerations of child mortality surveillance in different cultural, social, religious and geographical contexts. While community engagement looks at approaches for working with key community stakeholders and community members for community entry, community sensitization , appropriate ways to address rituals and grieving and rumor control.
It is with the backdrop, as part of the community engagement strategy that the series of community stakeholder workshops will be conducted in Makeni city.