Maternal and Child Nutrition
FOCUS1000 partners with civil society organizations, government institutions and donors in promoting and implementing evidence-based interventions that have shown to improve the nutritional status of pregnant women, lactating mothers and children. Such interventions include immediate and exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, introducing of weaning foods after 6 months, promotion of iron and vitamin A supplementation, de-worming of pregnant women and children, diversification of the family diet, and hand washing with soap at critical periods.
Almost half of Sierra Leonean girls are married by the age of 18 years. Teenage pregnancy continues to be one of the leading factors affecting the health of adolescent girls in the country. It remains a major propagator of health and social inequalities that adversely affect young Sierra Leonean girls. Child marriage is human rights crisis that facilitates the high incidence of teen pregnancy in the country.
FOCUS 1000 has established a network of faith-based and adolescent peer-support groups to mount a social campaign making child marriage unacceptable in Sierra Leone. FOCUS 1000 also promotes girls’ education and works with community-based organizations to improve access to family planning education and services to young people.
Utilization of Services
FOCUS 1000 is working with communities to increase the demand and utilization of essential health facilities. Low utilization of available services is partly responsible for the poor health indicators in Sierra Leone. Diseases like malaria, diarrhea and acute respiratory tract infections (ARI) that kill thousands of children in Sierra Leone can be prevented by simple, low-cost interventions. Despite the introduction of the Free Health Care Initiative, over 40% of pregnant women do not attend the required 4 antenatal visits, and almost half of pregnant women deliver outside recognized health facilities in Sierra Leone (DHS, 2013).
FOCUS 1000 employs four strategies in addressing these three areas of intervention:
- Social support
- Capacity development