Orange SL Joins fight against Malaria

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In a landmark event hosted at State House in Freetown on 25th April, 2024, Orange Sierra Leone, one of the leading mobile telecommunication networks in the country, partnered with the Ministry of Health to commemorate World Malaria Day and the launching of the first malaria vaccine for children under 2 years old. This innovative initiative signified a significant step forward in the fight against malaria, a disease that has long plagued Sierra Leone’s population, particularly its children.

The introduction of the vaccine follows meticulous planning by the National Immunization Program with support from various partners such as UNICEF, GAVI and WHO. This initiative is seen as a key step towards achieving sustainable development goals, supported by the Government’s strong commitment and collaborative efforts from various stakeholders.

In his keynote address, President Dr. Julius Maada Bio expressed joy and highlighted the devastating impact malaria has had on the nation’s children. He praised the collaborative efforts with international partners such as Gavi, UNICEF, and WHO in making the vaccination initiative possible and reiterated his Government’s commitment to becoming one of the first countries to incorporate malaria vaccines into routine immunization programs.

President Bio emphasized ongoing efforts to combat malaria, including free diagnostic testing, distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, and indoor residual spraying, while stressing the importance of vigilance, especially during peak malaria transmission periods. He lauded the rollout of malaria vaccines for children under two as a critical step forward in the country’s fight against malaria, offering hope for a future where children can be protected from the disease’s devastating impact.

Spearheading the endeavour, Sekou Amadou Bah, the CEO of Orange Sierra Leone, expressed the company’s active involvement and unwavering support for the vaccination initiative. He emphasized Orange’s commitment to providing resources and service infrastructures for disseminating accurate information about the vaccine rollout. The CEO underscored the importance of communication campaigns in ensuring widespread access to information regarding the vaccine’s benefits, showcasing Orange’s dedication to supporting the Government’s efforts for sustainable development and social progress, particularly in the healthcare sector.

Furthermore, Sekou Amadou Bah highlighted Orange’s annual observance of World Malaria Day, during which the company raises awareness about the disease and its impact. He commended the collaborative efforts between Orange Sierra Leone, the Government and organizations such as ICAP in undertaking various health projects focused on maternal mortality, hospital renovation, breast cancer screening, and community health initiatives.

The Orange SL Boss expressed gratitude to President Julius Maada Bio and the Ministry of Health for their roles in transforming the malaria vaccine initiative from concept to reality, marking a historic milestone for Sierra Leone.

In his address, Dr. Charles Senesie, the Deputy Minister of Health, emphasized a patient-centered approach to healthcare delivery, particularly highlighting the importance of vaccines in combating malaria, especially among vulnerable populations such as children under five in Africa.

Dr. Senesie commended the collaboration between the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) and the Malaria Control Program, showcasing innovative approaches like utilizing the EPI platform for vaccine rollout among children. He stressed the urgent need for collective commitment to combat malaria, end discrimination and integrate malaria control interventions into universal health coverage.

Representing UNICEF, Liv Elin Indreiten hailed the official launch of the malaria vaccine in Sierra Leone as a crucial step in the fight against malaria, the country’s leading cause of mortality. She applauded the meticulous planning by the National Immunization Program and the support from various partners such as UNICEF, GAVI and WHO, underscoring the initiative’s alignment with sustainable development goals and the Government’s commitment to collaborative efforts.

The United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Bryan David Hunt, expressed pride in the partnership between the United States Government and Sierra Leone, emphasizing the potential of the vaccine to save lives and protect children from severe malaria effects. Ambassador Hunt reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to working closely with the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Health to ensure broad distribution of the vaccine and support efforts to end malaria in the country.

Climaxing the event was President Bio’s launching of the malaria vaccine in Sierra Leone representing a collaborative effort between Government, private sector, and international partners to combat a disease that has long plagued the nation.

Orange Sierra Leone’s proactive involvement and support for the initiative have been instrumental in ensuring the success of the vaccination program, underscoring the company’s commitment to social impact and sustainable development in Sierra Leone.

With collective determination and continued collaboration, Sierra Leone stands poised to make significant strides towards a malaria-free future for its children and communities.

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