‘I am committed to end child deaths’ says Community Health Worker Ibrahim Sorie.
‘Our community people are very difficult to talk to on health related issues, which for me, is the underlining factor for an increase in child deaths in this district’, Ibrahim Sorie Turay Community Health Worker (CHWs) Coordinator Bombali District.
Bombali District is situated in the Northern part of Sierra Leone with a population of 606,183, for which women covers the greatest percentage of 310,263 according to the 2015 Sierra Leone Population and Housing Census. Bombali district has on record a district that has several myths related to child illnesses and deaths categorized as witchcraft and traditional beliefs etc.
‘Before the introduction of the CHAMPS Project in this district, we do know that children are dying but do not know why they are dying’ exclaimed Ibrahim.
The community health workers are individuals that are based within their communities, trained on how to screen children under five, diagnose illnesses, educate pregnant women on the importance of antenatal and postnatal care, and do referral for further attentions.
‘One key challenge facing communities is the poor environmental sanitation, resulting to water and airborne diseases like malaria, diarrhea, phenomena, cholera, malnutrition etc. These diseases are frequently diagnosed and treated but when not treated properly it leads to death especially when the mother or parent do not pay much attention to the administration of drug’ Mr. Turay said.
The Bombali CHWs Coordinator further explained that parent find it much more important in paying attention to their farm work than taking their sick children to hospital. They prefer giving them traditional medicines which has no dosage. When the child becomes too sick, there and then they seek medical attention. ‘The most frustrating aspect is when that mother or guardian will not update us on what has been given to that child, it is only after several interviews and possible lab test we can ascertain the problem and how best it can be treated. For some cases we can save the life of that child but others it is futile’.
‘I am extremely happy to know that the CHAMPS project will further support our work in these communities not only identifying the causes of child illness and deaths, but with the call alert through the use of 117 toll free line, we can diagnose sickness early and administer treatment.’ ‘We know the stigmatization that is associated to this number, but as CHW we can work effectively to help change the negative mind set of these people and further educate them on it importance, thereby, bringing out the positive results it can have on various communities. The CHWs Coordinator revealed.
By Bridget Lewis
FOCUS 1000 CHAMPS Communications Officer