A Ray of Hope: Improving Maternal Health in Rural Sierra Leone

Sister Patricia Efe Azikiwe

The cries of newborn babies are a welcome sound in the maternity ward of Koidu Government Hospital (KGH) in eastern Sierra Leone. Under the mentorship of Sister Patricia Efe Azikiwe, a dedicated nurse-midwife, this rural hospital is making strides in reducing preventable deaths among mothers and infants—no small feat in a country where 1 in 52 pregnancies ends in maternal mortality.

This rate is still high, compared to developed countries. But it is a great improvement over the previous maternal mortality rate of 1 in 20.

Just a few years ago, the dilapidated hospital struggled with unreliable electricity and water. Today, after renovations by Partners In Health, it offers state-of-the-art care. The maternity ward, bustling with over 2,500 births this year, provides critical services like C-sections and blood transfusions. The recent addition of a neonatal intensive care unit, or “good news room,” has dramatically improved survival of preterm and sick babies.

Yet much work remains in a country with one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates. To expand access to quality care, Partners in Health is constructing an innovative 166-bed Maternal Center of Excellence on the hospital grounds, slated to open in 2024. They are also providing specialized training for local nurses and midwives who will staff the new facility.

Sister Azikiwe continues instructing the next generation with her trademark direct yet compassionate approach. As she says, “No mother should die in pregnancy, at birth, or after delivery.” With dedication from healthcare workers like her, there is hope that one day Sierra Leone will be a place where no woman fears giving birth.

Watch this video from Partners in Health:

Sister Patricia Efe Azikiwe shares the work and progress being achieved in Sierra Leone.

Read the original article: Preventing Maternal and Child Death in Rural Sierra Leone, posted December 26, 2023 by Partners in Health. And their work in Sierra Leone.

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