The United States Government’s President Malaria Initiative (PMI) programme on Thursday, June 18, 2020, supported the health sector in Sierra Leone with 290,000 doses of malaria medicines, including test kits worth millions of Leones.
Sierra Leone was first announced as a new U.S President’s Malaria Initiative Country in 2017, to synergize efforts between the two countries to combat malaria, a preventable disease which has killed and continues to claim the lives of many around the world.
The doses of malaria medicines came in at a time government is on its registration to implement the free distribution of 4.6 million treated insecticide bed nets to households, of which 2.5 million of the bed nets were made available through efforts of the U.S PMI Programme.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the procurement, manufacturing and shipment of many healthcare commodities, causing worldwide and localized shortages of essential health commodities like malaria treatments, according to U.S Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Maria Brewer.
She said the PMI programme implemented with the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was aimed at delivering cost-effective, lifesaving malaria interventions which cost the U.S. government 15 million dollars annually for malaria control activities in Sierra Leone.
“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MoHS identified a critical shortfall in the stock of malaria commodities, and as the country enters its peak malaria transmission season, the support came at the right time,” the envoy said.
Dr. Alpha Wurie, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health and Sanitation, added that to prevent a stock-out as a result of delays to ship in essential drugs for the people and fighting the coronavirus at the same time, the arrival of the doses and test kits would further save the lives of numerous infants and children, over the course of the rainy season.
During the COVID-19, malaria remains one of the biggest health threats to citizens, and evidence from previous outbreaks demonstrates that during an outbreak, there may be more deaths from the disruption of effective malaria services than there will be deaths attributed to the outbreak.
Both the U.S ambassador and the minister said that it was vital for people with symptoms of malaria to access health facilities in order to be assessed and treated early for malaria, before it would become fatal.