By Hassan Bruz (SLENA Northern Bureau Chief)…
The St John of God Hospital otherwise called the ‘Mabessaneh Hospital’ is widely known for its leadership role in the service to Humanity. It was established about 50 years ago by the Catholic Mission and has been one of the key referral Hospitals in the Country. It continued its dedicated service during the Ebola outbreak when the Compound was even converted to a treatment centre. The Management of this Hospital pioneered the confidence building drive between Health Workers and Community Members at the peak of Ebola, when most people lost confidence in Health Service Givers and had refused to go for medication in Hospitals.
As rightly put by its Chief Executive Officer- Bro. Michael Koroma, his Management is bent on pursuing President Koroma’s Agenda for Prosperity with regards Maternal and Child Mortality. He said the Hospital has opted to promote Safe Motherhood Activities with support from Africa Viva Foundation- a Spanish Non Government Organisation. He said the initiative was developed in line with the Presidential Recovery Priorities and upon the realisation that a good number of Pregnant Women and Children have continued dying for want of Health Services.
Bro. Michael Koroma, who was speaking at the one year commemoration of Safe Motherhood in the Marampa Chiefdom, said there are prevailing challenges in spite the intervention of Government. He singled out the reluctance of Pregnant Women to attend Antenatal care Services which is why his administration has come up with the Safe Motherhood drive. He described it as a process in which Pregnant Women are provided with basic education on Safe Motherhood activities. He said Members are encouraged to see the need to attend Antenatal services, deliver at Health Facilities and ensure that their Children are immunized. While informing the gathering that there is an Ambulance assigned for immediate response to distress calls, the Chief Executive Officer, further informed them about the Pregnancy Insurance Scheme , which he stressed , has immense advantages. He encouraged them to make use of the opportunity, adding that he will continue to seek for Partners to help in the intervention of Safe Motherhood.
Madam Isha Daramy Kabia is the founder of the Safe Motherhood Programme at the Mabessaneh Hospital. She confirmed that Pregnant Women are often reluctant to attend Safe Motherhood Programmes. She outlined some of the activities involved in the Programme such as Education on Pregnancy related issues and how it helps women to see the need to go for the prescribed immunizations. As a result, she said there is now a marked decrease in child birth complications in the Marampa Chiefdom. She said even though it is a private project, she expected the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to embrace the idea so that it could be replicated in other parts of the country. She was buttressed by the Project Coordinator- Usman Toronka who gave a brief history of the Project and some statistics that implied an increase in the number of Pregnant Women that now go to attend Safe Motherhood Classes. He said the Project is open and that members are liable to free medical services.
The President of the Africa Viva Foundation- Dr. Victoria Fumado was in Lunsar to grace the occasion. She said her Organisation seeks to improve Maternal Child Health in Africa. Dr. Fumado observed how Ebola negatively impacted on the normal trend of things in Sierra Leone to a point that Schools, Markets and other Places had to close down. She observed that Pregnant Women were scared to go for antenatal services in Hospitals. She said that is the more reason her Organisation did not hesitate to register her support, when she was approached by both Bro. Michael Koroma and Madam Isha Daramy Kabia for the establishment of a Safe Motherhood Programme inLunsar. Dr. Fumado said she was therefore delighted to be part of its one year commemoration. She viewed Women and Children as the future of Sierra Leone who are also the Human Capital to carry out future Projects.
In her contribution, the President of the West African College of Nursing and Midwifery –Patricia Bah praised the untiring efforts of the Management of St John of God Hospital. She was particularly impressed by the establishment of the Pregnancy Insurance Scheme which is an indication of their resolve to shift from mere talking and planning to the implementation of Action Points. She said the Project is enviable and ought to be replicated in other parts of the Country. The President emphasised the need for proper family planning and for Parents to give birth only to the number of Children they are able to provide for. She said Safe Motherhood is an ongoing Project and therefore appealed to Women to take advantage of the opportunity at hand. She ended with an appeal to other NGOs to come on board so that the Project can be sustainable.
Several other speakers including the Vice President of the West African College of Nursery and Midwifery, the Country Director of ENGIM, the WHO representative, and former Member of Parliament- A.O Daramy who deputised for Paramount Chief Koblo Queen of Marampa Chiefdom. They admonished Pregnant Women to go for Antenatal care Service, keep themselves clean, and avoid maternal deaths while assuring them of their unflinching support. The Programme was climaxed by testimonies from Members of Safe Motherhood who also urged for the sustainability of the Project. Below are pictures obtained at the commemoration ceremony including that of the Chief Executive Officer and the President of the Africa Viva Foundation.