June 1, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday called for collective effort from everyone to change the current trend of hundreds of mothers dying while giving birth.
The president was speaking at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown while launching the 2016 Maternal Death Surveillance Response (MDSR) report.
The report, which was put together by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, with support from development partners, estimated that up to seven in ten maternal deaths currently go unreported, with a total of 706 maternal deaths reported in 2016.
During the ceremony, President Koroma challenged Paramount Chiefs, traditional and religious leaders and Chairmen of city and district councils, among others, to ensure that pregnant women visit hospitals and clinics for proper treatment at all times.
He said women should not die while giving birth, adding that the high level of maternal deaths revealed in the report was unacceptable, describing it as a tragedy for the country.
He described the report as important for his government and that if the issues therein were handled properly; it would help the development of the country
“Until we guarantee that our mothers will not die while giving birth, the future of the country will not be guaranteed. The number of our women who die while giving birth and children is unacceptable. The report is telling us what we should do,” he said.
He stressed that the launch of the report should not be the end point, but rather the focus should now be how the issues raised could be addressed.
According to him, if everyone comes on board and perform their own role, the amount of women dying while giving birth will be reduced if not eradicated.
President Koroma maintained that it has reached the point where they can no longer give words of encouragement but rather instruct Paramount Chiefs, traditional and religious leaders, members of parliament and Councilors, among others, to enforce the laws necessary to save mothers from dying during the process of giving birth.
On behalf of the United Nations Country Team, Dr. Kim Evans Dickson, said the report was produced with the aim of providing information on the current status of maternal deaths in the country.
She said the report provides vital data to be used to strengthen the country’s health system and prevent maternal deaths.
“Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal deaths in the world, with 1,165 per 100,000 live births. The only country that is higher than Sierra Leone is Afghanistan and Chad. The sad truth is any maternal death usually can be prevented if quality care is available and provided,” she said.
Earlier giving highlights of the report, Director of Reproductive and Child Health Care, Dr. Santigie Sesay, disclosed that out of the 218, 808 live births recorded in 2016, 5608 were still births, with 706 maternal deaths.
He continued that 5% of maternal deaths occurred before patients were taken to clinics, 14% in communities with 81% losing their lives in the hospital.
According to him, home delivery was the major cause of maternal deaths in the country, followed by lack of emergency planning, poverty and poor nutritional status.