UNICEF Partners with COTN in Sierra Leone

03/28/07

Impressed with our work in Banta, UNICEF has recently offered to partner with COTN in Sierra Leone. Details were finalized at a meeting earlier this month (March 1, 2007) when UNICEF met with COTN–SL Country Director, Angie Myles, and they announced they would provide program funding for two cheifdoms in Banta Mokelleh (Upper Banta and Lower Banta). Funding will provide for vitamins and immunizations for the children, malaria medications, treated mosquito nets for our children as well as each person in the outlying villages, a program promoting “exclusive breastfeeding” (for a minimum of five months), and training of more health educators. UNICEF is also providing COTN–SL with one motorcycle and four bicycles to allow health educators to offer services and training to outlying villages.

Sierra Leone currently ranks #1 in both infant mortality (death of an infant prior to reaching age five) and maternal mortality (death of a mother during childbirth). Leading causes of infant mortality in Sierra Leone are malnourishment, malaria, and upper-respiratory tract infection—all of which are preventable and treatable with proper medical attention. The high maternal death rate, which is linked to early pregnancy and a lack of prenatal care, is largely due to a lack of education regarding the risks of such pregnancies.. COTN is currently the only NGO (non-governmental agency) in the Banta region of Sierra Leone addressing these issues. Through partnering with COTN, UNICEF hopes to makes strides toward recent government mandates to reduce the national infant-mortality rate by two-thirds and the maternal-mortality rate by three-fourths.