High Maternal Deaths in Freetown

2021 data captured by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation’s Maternal Death Surveillance and Response has indicated that the Western Area topped the chat with 86 maternal deaths while Karene recorded the least, 14.

The cumulative maternal deaths recorded in all districts across the country according to the report were 506. Western Area Urban 68, and Western Area Rural 19, Bo district with 57 deaths followed by Kenema 50, Bombali 41, Moyamba 38, Kono 37, Port Loko 35, Tonkolili 34, Kambia 23, Kailahun 19, Falaba 17, Koinadugu 16, with Karene recording 14 deaths. The data according to Dr. Tom Sesay, Director of Reproductive, Neonatal, and Child Health at the Ministry of Sierra Leone were those captured by the response, saying that there could be more that were not reported by the communities. Presenting the report last Friday in Freetown during a consultative engagement on the proposed Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Bill, Dr Sesay said that abortion accounts for 6% of those figures recorded with Hemorrhage (bleeding) and hypertension being the leading cause of those deaths. Speaking at the engagement the Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation Princess Dugba said that the proposed Safe Motherhood bill comprised two-thirds of all health related issue in the country and that abortion was just a component of the bill with the main aim of reducing maternal deaths. She added that the bill will also introduce comprehensive sexuality education in schools, saying that if sex is being talked about in an educative manner to children, the better its accompanying challenges would be dealt with. “Because of little or no sexuality education, a lot has gone wrong and a lot of people have also lost their lives due to bad decisions,” she said. The Deputy Minister added that many perceptions and taboos on the use of contraceptives have led to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in the country including HIV/AIDS from which she said people are still dying regardless of the fact that there are drugs,because of the stigma and fear of being tested and diagnosed.

She therefore called on all to support the bill to ensure that it goes through Parliament successfully, saying that a lot of good things are embedded in it such as the the school clinics, provisions for lactating mothers, and free health care services for pregnant woman.

In his statement, Dr. Francis smart of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation noted that the 1991 constitution makes it mandatory for the state to provide adequate medical services for all in Sierra Leone regardless of race , colour, geographical location, tribe or Political Orientation, He said it is on this basis that the ministry is leading the draft process of the bill.

He noted that of the causes of maternal death and abortion total Just 6% which means that focusing on just abortion will not solve the issue if maternal death.” he said, adding that the bill covers all persons in Sierra Leone including men, women, and children.

He however noted that the bill is a fresh bill, and not a version of the highly contested private 2015 Safe Abortion Bill member In his statement. Dr. Sylvester Epiagolo representing Care International pledged his organsation’s continued support in ensuring that the bill has cover all the necessary health issues.

He therefore called for an open discussion on the bill Proclamation of the bill that is said to guarantee women’s reproductive rights and choice was first made by President Julius Maada Bio at the close of the weeklong 10th African Conference on Sexual Health and Rights that brought together activists, celebrities, educationists, and government officials across Africa for a radical conversation on feminism in Sierra Leone.

“At a time in the world when sexual and reproductive health rights for women are either being over turned or threatened, we are proud that Sierra Leone can once again lead with progressive reforms. My government has unanimously approved a Safe Motherhood bill that will include a range of critical provisions to ensure the health and the dignity of all girls and women of reproductive age in this country,” he said at the time.

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