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31% decline in women delivering at health facilities

October 7, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

A research conducted on the impact of the Ebola outbreak on routine maternal health services in Sierra Leone has revealed a 31% decline in the number of women delivering in health facilities from May to September 2014. The report says there was a corresponding rise in maternal case fatality rate in CEmONC facilities from 1.27 to 3.08.

The report of the research, which was carried out by Voluntary Services Overseas Sierra Leone in collaboration with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, was officially launched yesterday at the Sierra Light House in Freetown.

The report states that at the peak of the Ebola outbreak the number rose further by 3.48 in November 2014, with stillbirth rate increasing at CEmONC facilities from 12.20 in May 2014 to 16.69 in November 2014.

According to the report, the Ebola crisis did not significantly affect the provision of services than it did to the uptake of services by the public, while commitment shown by healthcare workers to remain in their posts and motivate colleagues to do the same was evident from interviews with both service users and providers.

The report also indicates that nationwide, there was an 11% reduction in the number of women attending facilities for deliveries, noting that for antenatal care and postnatal care visits, six (6) out of the thirteen (13) reported reduced numbers of visits.

“Overall, there were increased case fatality rates for both stillbirths and maternal deaths associated with recent Ebola cases. When analyzed separately for each facility type, the increase was only significant for CEmONC facilities,” the report notes.

While officially launching the report, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation 1, Foday Sawi, welcomed the findings which expose gaps and weaknesses in both the systems and structure of the country’s health architecture.

He encouraged technical colleagues in both the ministry and partner organisations to carefully dissect the findings and identify durable and cost-effective actions that would strengthen healthcare delivery systems and services in the country.

Also, Country Director of VSO Sierra Leone, Peter Nderitu, congratulated the government for the enormous work and efforts in reversing the Ebola epidemic in the country, but urged everyone to continue to remain vigilant until the [Ebola] “war is over”.

He said the research was carried out as a result of the rapid spread of the virus, as well as concerns about the wellbeing of frontline health workers.

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