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Sierra Leone

Anemia has substantial negative effects on the health and economic wellbeing of nations and communities. Children with anemia experience irrevocable cognitive and developmental delays and exhibit decreased worker productivity as adults.1 Globally, maternal anemia increases the risk of pre-term delivery and low birth weight, and iron-deficiency anemia underlies 115,000 maternal deaths and 591,000 perinatal deaths each year.2

Anemia Prevalence

Status of Policies or Strategies to Support Reductions in Anemia*

  IFA for pregnant women
  IFA for women of reproductive age
  IFA for adolescent girls
  Iron and/or folic acid fortification legislation
  Delayed cord clamping
  Dietary diversity for complementary feeding
  Micronutrient powders for children
  Long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) for household use
  Indoor residual spraying
  National policy on sanitation
  IPTp for pregnant women
  Malaria diagnosis and treatment
  Deworming for children
  Deworming for pregnant women


  no policy
  policy pending
  policy in place 
  missing documentation

*Information from the Global database on the Implementation of Nutrition Action (GINA) ( and country strategies. The status of policies and strategies have been identified to the best of our knowledge. Revisions and updates are welcome. Evidence-informed WHO guidance can be found here:


In pregnancy, infections are a key cause of anemia and can be prevented by sleeping under a bednet and taking intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp) for malaria and deworming pills. Anemia can also be prevented by taking iron folic acid (IFA) supplements.

Less than half of women (45%) took IPTp to prevent malaria during pregnancy (2013)

Infants and Young Children

For infants and young children, delayed cord clamping, sleeping under a bednet, and exclusive breastfeeding reduce the risk of becoming anemic.

For young children, continued breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding (including micronutrients), preventing and treating malaria, and taking deworming pills can prevent anemia and promote healthy growth.

61% of children 12-59 months were given deworming medication in the past six months (2013)

Women and Adolescent Girls

For women and adolescent girls, IFA supplements and deworming help prevent anemia.  Family planning delays the age at first birth.

17% of married adolescent girls expressed an unmet need for family planning (2013)


In households, improving basic hygiene and sanitation practices reduces the risk of infection and can help prevent anemia.

Only 22% of households have a place for washing hands. Among those households, one third (33%) has water and soap for washing hands (2013)


Jalloh, U. H., H. I. Kamara, M. Turay, A. Kargbo, H. Turay, M. S. Bah, D.H. Marke, L. Conteh, A.S. Koroma, and M.H. Hodges. 2016. “Impact of Ebola on Mass Vitamin A Supplementation and Deworming Coverage in Sierra Leone.” Freetown, Sierra Leone: Helen Keller International.

Ministry of Health and Sanitation (Sierra Leone), UNICEF, Helen Keller International, and WHO. 2013 Sierra Leone Micronutrient Survey. Freetown, Sierra Leone; 2015.

Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) and ICF International. 2014. Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey 2013. Freetown, Sierra Leone and Rockville, Maryland, USA: SSL and ICF International.

Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) and ICF Macro. 2009. Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey 2008. Calverton, Maryland, USA: Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) and ICF Macro.

Profile prepared February 2016.