President Julius Maada Bio while cataloguing his achievements in the past five years at the annual Speech Day and Prize Giving ceremony of his alma mater, The Bo School, on Friday, 7th April 2023, praised the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Prof. Alpha Tejan Wurie, for the significant drop in maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone.
According to President Bio, it was when Prof. Wurie was serving as Minister of Health and Sanitation between 2018 and 2021 that major interventions under his watch saw the unprecedented decline from 1140 per 100,000 live births in 2018 to around 700 in 2020 and just under 500 in 2022.
Prof. Alpha Wurie who was profusely thanked and appreciated by President Bio highlighted a number of factors that contributed to this massive gain.
He started off with the inauguration of district ambulance services across the country in 2018 that has considerably reduced difficulty in accessing health facilities.
Secondly, he went on, authority was given to him to employ 4,000 nurses, which constituted over 40% of the workforce of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. “Recruitment on district basis was a novelty in the exercise as it allowed trained and qualified personnel to be in all secondary hospitals and most Primary Health Units ( PHUs), hence the arrival of pregnant women whose situations were treated and addressed by professionals.”
Another contribution to the latest drop in the maternal mortality rate is the creation and operationalization of the National Medical Supplies Agency which improved the distribution of drugs to the last mile PHUs.
Furthermore, the inauguration of the newly built Rokupa and King Herman Road Hospitals as child and maternal service entities expanded the outreach of tertiary services beyond PCMH (Princess Christian Maternity Hospital).
Also, the operationalization of a blood bank at the PCMH started to address haemorage situations in the Western Area even though it is required to be expanded nationwide.
The new WHO representative in Sierra Leone, Innocent Nuwagira, recently congratulated President Bio for the landmark achievement. He said: “Your Excellency, I am here to congratulate the country on the drastic reduction in maternal mortality that has occurred. We are proud of that achievement at WHO. Sierra Leone used to be one of the countries with the highest maternal mortality, which it has moved away from. In this year’s estimation that we have released recently, Sierra Leone was the number one country. You are at the top for reducing deaths by 60 percent in the region. Non was comparing to your country.”
Meanwhile, President Bio had also received global accolade for the country’s efficient handling of the Corona pandemic, thanks to Prof. Wurie who was at the helm of affairs in the health sector.