By Jariatu S. Bangura
If you have recently had a miscarriage, you’re likely aware of the unique physical and emotional challenges that come with the experience.
DKT International, a social marketing and non-profit making organization, has been operating in Sierra Leone for about five years, and one of their mandates is to supply hospitals and other health centres with available products of Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) device targeting the preventions of complications due to miscarriage, sexually transmitted diseases— excessive bleeding, and infection; and the prevention of unwanted pregnancies. The medical device is supplied to the required hospitals as and when needed or when requested.
Country Manager, DKT International Sierra Leone, Michael Enema, has told Concord Times in an exclusive interview that his organisation is poised to decrease complications due to miscarriage to the lowest level in the country. According to him, maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone is the highest in the world with 1,360 mothers dying in every 100,000 live births.
Michael said Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) procedure is performed to induce abortion, as a treatment for incomplete spontaneous abortion (otherwise commonly known as miscarriage) or retained fuetal and placental tissue, or to obtain a sample of uterine lining (endometrial biopsy). It is generally safe, and serious complications rarely occur.
What is the procedure?
MVA is a medical procedure and a life -saving mechanism for women. It is a medical device used to save the lives of women that experience miscarriage. Most times miscarriages occur during the early stage of pregnancy-from the moment the woman gets pregnant to 14 weeks.
He said different things can occur within the 14 weeks of pregnancy that can lead to the loss of the pregnancy.
He said whenever there is miscarriage, it is but important that a procedure is carried out to prevent further damage to the woman.
He encouraged women to be visiting the hospital for antenatal care at least to get them checked, more especially with specialised doctors at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH).
Princess Christian Maternity Hospital is a tertiary hospital and is a reference centre in Sierra Leone.
It is one of the easiest and one of the highest concentration of medical personnel in terms of Gynaecology and other professional staff. It is so because all the specialists are there and they are trained to provide all the necessary care that is needed for women. There are several checks that the doctors will conduct just to be sure that everything that ought to leave the woman’s body leaves. In Africa, culturally, women are discouraged from going to the hospital and that is the reason for the highest rate of maternal mortality. Woman in Africa are more exposed to things that cause the loss of pregnancies. When a woman gets pregnant, it is important that she looks for a hospital to access antenatal care.
What causes miscarriages in women?
Some miscarriages occur as a result of several reasons. Pregnancy is something that is very delicate, which is why it is important for a pregnant woman to be in the hands of healthcare professionals that will guarantee her safety. If there is anything that makes her prone to miscarriage, they will take care of it and in the event that miscarriage still occurs, it will also be taken care of so that she will get pregnant again.
What is the guarantee of the MVA?
In terms of efficacy, the MVA is 99% guarantee, effective and safe provided the procedure is carried out by a professional. Abortion is a broad subject but the MVA procedure can be carried out to save the life of the mother. And there is always a law guiding them to carry out the procedure and there is always provision for consent among the doctors before it is carried out.
Who are the other targeted beneficiary healthcare professionals?
The organisation does not only collaborate with Ministry of Health in Freetown, they also train healthcare professionals in the provinces for inclusiveness of those women living in remote communities. They also provide supply to NGOs that are involved with the health of women, but they ensure that there is space created for training of medical staff.
What are the success stories with the use of MVA?
Since 2018 when DKT started it operations in Sierra Leone, the lives of many women have been saved. Before they started operations, death rate was high but as it stands, it has drastically been reduced.
The government and other partners are doing something right although a lot more needs to be done.