In a united front against the pressing issues of stillbirths and child mortality in Sierra Leone, the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) Network, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, unveiled early research findings at the 2023 CHAMPS National Advisory Forum. The event, held on Wednesday at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Aberdeen, Freetown, focused on the theme “Call to Action: Use of CHAMPS Data for Action, Policy, and Research.”

The CHAMPS National Advisory Forum served as a pivotal platform, bringing together stakeholders for a constructive dialogue aimed at shaping the future of child health in Sierra Leone. Participants dived into early research findings, explored collaboration avenues, and contributed insights to enhance the utilization of CHAMPS data for actionable measures.

CHAMPS, a global network funded by the Gates Foundation with technical support from Emory University, provides timely and accurate tracking of infectious and preventable causes of death for children under five. In Sierra Leone, CHAMPS is jointly implemented by Crown Agents, World Hope International, and Focus 1000 to combat child mortality.

During his keynote address, Dr. Charles Senessie, the Deputy Minister of Health, expressed appreciation for the invaluable data compiled by CHAMPS, emphasizing the pivotal role of data in development. He underscored the Ministry’s commitment to collaborative efforts with CHAMPS and other partners to address challenges related to stillbirths and child mortality.

Dr. Senessie acknowledged the prevalent issue in hospitals and clinics where the root cause of a child’s illness is often not thoroughly investigated. He pledged ongoing collaboration with CHAMPS to address the high rate of child deaths in the country and stressed the need to strengthen the healthcare sector.

Dr. Ike Ogbuanu, the Director of CHAMPS in Sierra Leone, outlined the organization’s role in determining and tracking the causes of under-five mortality and stillbirths through epidemiologic surveillance and advanced laboratory testing. Dr. Ogbuanu stressed the importance of reducing the high child death rate in Sierra Leone and encouraged mothers to provide nutritious food for their children.

Dr. Daphne Moffet, the Country Director for the Centre for Disease Control, emphasized the significance of data in making informed decisions and developing strategies to reduce child mortality rates and enhance the overall health system in the country.

The engagement featured speakers from WHO and UNICEF, who highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts to tackle the challenges of stillbirths and child mortality in Sierra Leone. The event marked a significant step towards building a collective response to these critical health issues, fostering hope for a healthier future for the nation’s children.