UNFPA and Swedish Embassy interventions to reduce maternal mortality in Nimba – FrontPageAfrica
MONROVIA – Health workers in Bahn, Nimba County, said that since the construction and inauguration of a maternal waiting room at the Bahn Health Center, no maternal deaths have been reported at the facility. .
Bahn is one of the most populous settlements in Nimba, the second most populous county in Liberia. The health center has 28 catchment communities and has provided health services to the thousands of Ivorian refugees who have been stationed there for nearly two decades.
The health center authority made the revelation to a high-level delegation consisting of officials from the Swedish Embassy, UNFPA and the Ministry of Health who recently visited the area.
The team included the Deputy Chief of Mission and Head of the Swedish Development Corporation at the Swedish Embassy Johan Romare, the new UNFPA Country Representative, Ms Bidisha Pillai and the Deputy Minister of Health for Curative Services, Dr. Gorbee Logan. Others include officials from the British Embassy and the Department of Gender, Children and Social Care.
Last week, the team conducted a joint field visit to sponsored project sites in Margibi, Bong and Nimba counties to obtain first-hand testimonies from beneficiaries on project impacts, challenges that hinder their full use or implementation and recommendations.
With 1,072 maternal deaths per 100,000 births, Liberia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, according to UNICEF. The mortality rate for newborns during the first 28 days of life is also high: 37 per 1,000 live births.
To combat this, the government of Liberia and its partners have adopted several strategies, one of which is support for maternal and child health (MCH) programs. Through this program, the government has banned home births by traditional midwives and, with its partners, has set up maternal waiting rooms in major health facilities, mainly in rural areas, to welcome pregnant women approaching their childbirth period. These women stay in the centers and are cared for by professional nurses and midwives until they deliver safely.
Bahn Maternal Waiting Room is a uniquely constructed hybrid center providing basic health care to expectant mothers. The MCH, consisting of eight bedrooms, a nursing station and delivery rooms, has played a major role in reducing maternal deaths in the region.
Head of the health center, Festus Yormie, said that since the inauguration of the waiting room in September 2021, 299 pregnant women have registered at the center, and of these there have been 280 safe deliveries. with no recorded deaths. .
Health center management disclosed that the facility provides health services to a huge population in its 28 catchment communities and to Ivorian refugees; adding that with the intervention of the UNFPA project, there has been increased awareness on sexual gender based violence in the community.
Despite these many accomplishments, Yormie named several challenges currently affecting the facility; among them, the lack of regular food for pregnant women, which drove patients to other community clinics.
He also told visiting guests that the health center lacks employed staff as most workers are volunteers, and among the main challenges are the limited supply of medicines by the Ministry of Health through the county health team based in Sanniquellie.
Health records showed there had been 11 cases of domestic violence, prompting health officials to seek help in raising awareness in the community to break entrenched cultural beliefs and practices.
The delegation thanked the hospital management for the sacrifices amid several challenges.
Earlier, the team visited the E and J Medical Center and had a brief interaction with the hospital administration and DKT International which works with facilities to provide contraceptives to teenage girls and boys.
MCH department supervisor, Madame Julie Doe, said more and more young people are turning to contraceptives, but the main challenges are myths and misconceptions; some mistakenly believe that contraceptives have harmful effects.
Bahn Resettlement Camp Tour
As part of the Bahn tour, the delegation visited the former Bahn refugee camp, now converted into the Bahn resettlement center and met several former refugees who have integrated into the community.
When the refugee camp closed, these Ivorians decided to stay and settle in Liberia. To accommodate them, Plan International and UNFPA, with funding from the Swedish government, have built 25 homes.
In a public meeting, beneficiaries praised the Swedish government and its implementing partners for providing them with shelter, but called for support for their children’s education and funding to support them. .
Speaking on behalf of the women, Rita Gailah thanked donors for their support so far, but said there were gaps to be filled during the mainstreaming process. She said all the services that were once provided by UNHCR have all disappeared, leaving them in shock.
Doumbia Musa, spokesperson for the beneficiaries praised the delegation for the support and appealed for electricity through the provision of solar panels.
In response, the UNFPA Representative in the country, Ms. Bidisha Pillai, thanked the residents for the welcome and expressed the hope that the structures built will provide security for them, especially women and children. She added that it was good that they integrated into the community.
From carpet to mattress
During this time, the team visited the women of the Kolakeh Peace hut in Ganta. The women, with funding from the Swedish Embassy, are engaged in empowerment and basic skills advocacy activities.
Ms. Annie Flomo, a leader of the group thanked UNFPA and Sweden for the opportunity, saying, through the support, the elevation from mat to mattress.
According to her, they have been victims of all forms of domestic violence and excluded from decision-making in their communities, but thanks to the activities of the peace hut, they can speak for themselves and participate in decision-making. .