October 2, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
A press release issued by Marie Stopes Sierra Leone has noted that in 2016, the organization prevented one hundred and one thousand, two hundred and twenty (101,220) unintended pregnancies across the country.
The press release, which was issued recently during the commemoration of the World Contraception Day (WCD), also noted that in 2016, MSSL’s teams provided family planning contraceptive services to four hundred and forty-four thousand, four hundred and fifty-six people (444,456) countrywide, thereby preventing fifty-nine thousand, five hundred and ten (59,510) unsafe abortions.
“Excluding the free distribution of one million and eighty thousand and two (1,080,002) condoms, MSSL was able to prevent one thousand and seventy-three (1,073) maternal deaths. Our services also contributed to making three million, seven hundred and forty-eight thousand, and forty-eight British Pound Sterling (£3,748,048) savings in direct health care costs,” the release stated.
The release explained that the vision of WCD, which is celebrated on 26th September every year, is a world where every pregnancy is wanted, adding that its mission is to improve awareness of all contraceptive methods to enable young people make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.
It noted that WCD is supported by a coalition of sixteen (16) international partners, including Marie Stopes International and is sponsored by Bayer Healthcare.
“Up to sixteen (16) million girls aged 15 to 19 are still giving birth every year. Sierra Leone is ranked among the ten nations with the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the world, with 38% of the girls aged 15-19 years pregnant or already having had at least one birth. Nearly 40% of women between the ages of 20 and 24 had their first child before the age of 18. For these young women, pregnancy could be a death sentence, putting their lives and those of their babies, at risk. For the lucky ones that survive, the future could be bleak, with the hope of completing their education a serious problem,” the release noted.
The release quoted MSSL’s Country Director, Dr. Ufuoma Festus Omo-Obi, as saying that facilitating young women’s abilities to take charge of their sexual and reproductive health would be central to reducing unwanted fertility and to improving their general situation in society.
“It is noteworthy that significant proportions of adolescent women and girls, who have had an unintended pregnancy, have had next to no or poor education on the topics of sex, contraceptive use or reproductive health in general. When women and girls have access to contraception, everybody wins-fewer girls drop out of school, fewer mothers die giving birth and more young women enter the workforce,” Dr. Ufuoma Festus Omo-Obi, was quoted by the release as saying.