Maternal Morbidity and Mortality, Sierra Leone, A Short Review

As at 2013, Sierra Leone had the world’s highest estimated maternal mortality ratio of about 1,165 per 100,000 live births (DHS, 2013). Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the maternal mortality ratio at 1,360 deaths per 100,000 live births. Maternal Mortality can be defined as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of pregnancy termination that is not as a result of accidental or incidental causes. Maternal deaths account for 36% of all deaths among ages 15-49 (WHO, 2015).

According to Sierra Leone, MDSR report in 2016, most reported cases of maternal deaths in Sierra Leone were from facilities (80%), while 13.5% occurred in the community and 5.6% of deaths in transit. The report states that maternal deaths at community levels are underreported.

The main causes of maternal deaths are postpartum hemorrhage, pregnancy induced hypertension, sepsis, anaemia and malaria in pregnancy, combined with delays in seeking and accessing care. Others include: inadequate information and knowledge about danger signals during pregnancy and labor as a result of cultural or traditional practices, which are mostly crude and restrict women from seeking care.  Sometimes, difficulty reaching health facilities, perhaps, as a result of the poor roads or communication networks, also increase maternal deaths.

From MDSR review meetings in 2016, different recommendations were suggested, which includes the availability of case definition for pre-eclampsia and eclampsia in healthcare facility, a proper assessment of patient vital signs during antenatal care(ANC) visits and while on admission, a longer stay in hospitals for obstetric complications- Patients discharged too early, post-surgery and many others.

Improving maternal health is one of WHO’s top priorities. It currently works to contribute to the reduction of maternal mortality through the increase in research evidence, provision of evidence-based clinical and programmatic guidance, setting of global standards, and providing technical support for implementing effective policy programs.

WHO is passionate about putting an end to preventable maternal-mortality. She works with partners to support countries to alleviate their peculiar challenges. The strategic efforts of Touch of Grace Inc. to improve general health care delivery in the town of Yengema will go a long way to reduce maternal mortality in the town. TOG’s efforts and strategy may not eradicate maternal mortality in Sierra Leone, but helping the part is helping the whole.

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