New alliance between the ”la Caixa” Foundation and UNICEF Spain to reduce infant mortality in Sierra Leone

The ”la Caixa” Foundation and UNICEF Spain reinforce their commitment with the joint objective of continuing to accelerate progress in child survival, preventing and avoiding deaths of children under five years of age from preventable and treatable causes
Mariama Lansanna, de 35 años, sostiene a su bebé Hawa, que muestra signos de desnutrición.<br />
© UNICEF/UN011617/Holt
Mariama Lansanna, 35, holds her baby Hawa, who shows signs of malnutrition. © UNICEF/UN011617/Holt
  1. Together in favor of children for more than two decades

Despite the important advances in recent decades in terms of child mortality – the global rate has decreased by 51% since 2000 –, still today a child dies every 6 seconds before reaching the age of five, or in other words, 4, 9 million every year. Most of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan African countries.

Given this reality, in April 2023, during the 2nd Global Childhood Pneumonia Forum in Madrid, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone announced the launch of the National Action Plan for Child Survival; Its goal is to join forces to prevent preventable child deaths, identifying opportunities and establishing steps to reach all children with life-saving interventions. The collaboration of UNICEF Spain and the “la Caixa” Foundation over the next year is part of this plan, which serves as a reference for other countries.

«This alliance is one more step on the path that has united us with the ”la Caixa” Foundation for more than two decades in favor of children, and will mean an important reinforcement of health systems, a key factor in addressing the challenge. of infant mortality from prevention with a comprehensive approach. When a country has the necessary capabilities and resources, in addition to a specific action plan, it is possible to reverse the statistics," said José María Vera, executive director of UNICEF Spain. «For this reason, we join forces, knowledge, experience and innovation to accelerate child survival in Sierra Leone. Only in this way will we achieve a significant impact that reduces inequalities and guarantees the right of each boy and girl to grow and prosper."

In Sierra Leone, 72 boys and girls die every day before reaching the age of five, that is, 26,300 children a year. Although the country has experienced a 60% decrease in infant mortality compared to 1990 data (45,000), the current trend is not enough to achieve SDG-3 (Health and Well-being), which requires acceleration by four the reduction in mortality.

The partnership will address key barriers to universal access and quality healthcare for children in Sierra Leone. Specifically, it will benefit more than 80,000 children under five years of age in the Kenema district through the training of health professionals, improving the quality of pediatric care or the distribution of medical supplies and essential medicines. In addition, it will reinforce the newly created Children's Health Program, including training and equipment, and will allow learning to be learned about the impact of each health intervention on saving children's lives.

«At the ”la Caixa” Foundation we continue working to reduce infant mortality through different initiatives and this new alliance with UNICEF Spain in Sierra Leone is framed in that context. A collaboration that highlights our joint commitment to global health and childhood,” highlighted the director of the International Area of ​​the ”la Caixa” Foundation, S.A.R. the Infanta Doña Cristina.

Together in favor of children for more than two decades

Since 2000, the support of the ”la Caixa” Foundation has been key to the work of UNICEF, contributing to the fight against child malnutrition in Mauritania and Ethiopia, the right to education in Sudan, the prevention of HIV/AIDS in Burundi and emergency response in Somalia, Haiti and the Philippines.

Starting in 2015, the alliance made important contributions to child survival and the global fight against childhood pneumonia, the leading infectious cause of death among children under five years of age worldwide, through increased awareness and action, and improving quality and access to primary care for vulnerable children in low-resource settings. Both organizations collaborated to advance innovative tools for pneumonia diagnosis, as well as strengthen skills and improve access to essential commodities for frontline health workers in centers and communities in Ethiopia.

In 2022, the ”la Caixa” Foundation also supported UNICEF's response to the emergency in Ukraine within the country, contributing to the purchase and distribution of essential health supplies, and to the cash transfer program to vulnerable families affected by the conflict. .