Sightsavers Sierra Leone The shift from VAS MDA to Routine VAS

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Over the last four years, Sierra Leone has been conducting Vitamin A Supplementation (VAS) as part of mass drug administration (MDA) during campaigns supported by donors. This project has contributed to four rounds of VAS MDA over the last four years. However, there was a realisation that this approach has not been very cost effective and sustainable. With support from this SIB project, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Helen Keller succeeded in advocating for routine VAS. This means that VAS is now included in the 6 month contact package. Routine VAS is now a priority for the Ministry and has been successfully integrated into about 28% (340/1228) of health facilities in the country during this period.
The Koribondo Community Health Centre in Jiama-Bongor Chiefdom in Bo District of the Southern Province is one of the health facilities that have effectively implemented the shift from MDA VAS to routine VAS. Mothers are now well informed and sensitized by the trained primary health unit (PHU) staff in addition to the increased radio coverage. They now actively engage in the process by keeping to appointments on the specified dates and are now actively using the conselling advices when they visit the clinics every six months. For example taking advice on practicing exclusive breast feeding. Other key messages included mothers coming with their 6 month old children to the clinic not only for first dose of VAS capsule, but also to benefit from other health service such as measles vacines, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (IYCN), counselling and participation in the demonstration of locally available food for diverse complementary feeding. Mothers were encouraged to take advantage of other servcies such as private and confidential counselling on birth spacing and provision of contraceptives. Each mother is given a card and appointment to enable them access services.
This package has motivated mothers/caregivers to attend clinic as per appointment date on the new child health card despite the distance to the health centre. This is because they know they will return home with the 6 month contact point package (6MCP). We strongly believe that the 6MCP will be sustainable and will be owned by the mothers themselves who are aware of the benefits of the scheme and the potentail contribution to the well being of their childen.
Hamid Turay| Nutrition Coordinator
+232-79-952217 | thamid@hki.org | Skype: hsturay
Helen Keller International | 22 Signal Hill Road | Freetown, Sierra Leone