Muntada Aid sat down with midwife Katherine Moss ahead of her first trip to Sierra Leone to talk about the project and its long-term influence on the community.
Why Sierra Leone?
I went to Sierra Leone two years ago with African Maternity Link. We went to see what facilities they have and what they didn't have. When we got there we found that clinic hardly had any facilities at all. We taught them how to perform neonatal resuscitation. A lot of them didn't know how to do it properly. Obviously, with high rates of maternal and neonatal deaths in the country, we found it important that they have the skills to be able to resuscitate babies to save them. We actually taught it to all the staff in the clinic. On our return visit, they were telling us the success stories on how they managed to resuscitate babies, which probably beforehand wouldn't have made it. So there are positives.
What is happening in February?
We are going out to Sierra Leone in February and we are going to teach neonatal resuscitation to midwives. When babies are born and not breathing, we can teach them how to make them breathe. Also in labour, we want to teach them how to document the labour properly on a partogram, which is what we do here. So they can recognise early signs of when labour starts to go wrong, warning signs that things aren't looking the way they should be so that they can get the early intervention if needed.
There is also medicine misoprostol going out, which helps with maternal postpartum haemorrhages. Usually, the women there who are risk of postpartum haemorrhages don't have access to the drugs, so a lot of women do end up dying because they are bleeding too much. But now they got access to those drugs, there is a more chance of stopping the postpartum haemorrhages and death.
About the project
Muntada Aid in partnership with Life for African Mothers is committed to supporting the local communities and the Government of Sierra Leone to train and empower the maternal health practitioner in 8 districts ( Portloko, Moyamba, Bombali, Kenema, Bonth, Tonkkolili, Kono and Kambia) and also provide mothers with vital medicines.
We are providing a comprehensive in-service training programme for a minimum of 100 midwives in Sierra Leone. This will help in creating a workforce with the capacity and capabilities to deal with the increasing demand in healthcare services of its population.
In Sierra Leone key challenges for maternal and neonatal health include lack of continuous training for midwives and birth attendants, limited access to medicines and poor understanding within the community about the support available in childbirth.
The longterm aim of the project is building maternal healthcare training and capacity across Sierra Leone.
In 2020, we are aiming to provide cost-free 400000 tablets of Misoprostol, essential to treat postpartum bleeding in childbirth to healthcare facilities in the eight districts and midwifery training to 100 professionals.