Freetown, Jan. 12, 015 (MOHS) – The National Malaria Control Programme, Ministry of Health and Sanitation will be conducting its second cycle of the Mass Drug Administration Campaign from January 16 – 19, 2015 in selected chiefdoms in the Bombali , Kambia, Koinadugu, Moyamba, Port Loko, Tonkolili and in al Wards in the Western Urban, Rural Area.
Addressing a press conference at the National Malaria Control Programme at New England Ville in Freetown, the Programme Manager, Dr. Samuel Smith noted the Ebola emergency situation, and the effect of the outbreak that has created numerous challenges for the continuation of routine health delivery services at all levels. The Ebola outbreak he added is having some adverse effects on the malaria programme intervention if appropriate measures are not put in place to support the malaria activities.
The goal of the campaign is to contribute to the containment of the Ebola outbreak in the country thereby reducing morbidity and mortality, with specific objectives to rapidly reduce malaria related incidence and mortality rates by providing intervalled Mass Distribution Administration using Artesunate/Amodaquine (AS/AQ) targeting all ages including children under five and pregnant women. The campaign also aimed at the rapid reduction of number of febrile Ebola suspected cases that would otherwise have required screening and isolation in the Ebola suspected holding centres to exclude Ebola as the cause of illness; and reduce the risk of Ebola transmission among malaria patients.
Dilating on the criteria for exclusion, Dr. Smith said a total population of 2,386, 968 are targeted to cover all ages above 6 months. Children below 6 months, malnourish children, pregnant women who are in their first three months, and all persons with fever and or looking sick are exempted. “Anyone who has received the AS/AQ drug within the last month, patients taking Zidovudine, Efavirenz or co-trimoxazole, are also an exclusion to the drug administration”, said Dr. Smith.
Quarantine houses, the Programme Manager re-emphasized must not be visited for the distribution by the MDA teams, adding that alternative arrangements have been made through Surveillance Officers and Contact Tracers at district level.
Answering questions on the findings for the 1st cycle Mass Drug Administration and the utilization of health facilities, Dr. Smith opined that there has been a significant decline in the utilization of health facilities across the country, with malaria prevention and diarrhea continue to be the primary killers of children under five in Sierra Leone, and will remain the main killers during the outbreak, that the detection and management of Ebola and malaria has been challenging for health workers as the initial clinical presentation of the two diseases is similar. All the targeted 24 chiefdoms in six districts and 30 zones in the Western Ares (10 zones in rural and 20 in urban were covered with satisfactory implementation coverage.
Other highlights in his presentation include lessons learnt in relation to strength, weakness, challenges, mistrust and misconception.
In his contribution, the Registrar of Pharmacy Board, Wiltshire Johnson dilated on Drug Safety and Monitoring.
He spoke on the side effects of the drug as in any other drugs, pointing out that it has been proven safe in line with WHO standard and protocols. Mr. Johnson noted the misconception, rumours and mistrust, disclosing that no established evidence of death was registered during the 1st cycle MDA campaign as a result of the drug, and encouraged compliance in line with the prescribed dosage and criteria of exclusion.
The Public Relations Officer and Chairman for the occasion, Jonathan Abass Kamara said social mobilization and community engagement, use of the media and other approaches heightened awareness about the MDA distribution campaign.
He expressed gratitude and appreciation to both the electronic and print media for the pivotal role played in the sensitization and education on the 1st cycle MDA campaign, encouraged journalists to give the same prominence to the forth coming campaign in January 16, 2015.
Mr. Kamara reiterated that the drugs will be administered FREE OF COST.