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Assessment of Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care services in Sierra Leone

© UNICEF/NYHQ07-1056/Pirozzi
Sierra Leone is one of the riskiest place to give birth: it has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, at 2100 per 100,000 live births.

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This report presents the findings of a nationwide needs-assessment for Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care (EmONC) undertaken in July 2008 by the Ministry of Health & Sanitation (MOHS), in collaboration with the Joint UN partners and with funding from Irish Aid, in response to the unacceptably high maternal and newborn mortality in Sierra Leone.

The aims of the assessment were to determine the availability, utilization and quality of Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) services, to identify gaps in service delivery, to identify interventions for the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality, and to provide baseline data upon which future programs could be monitored.

The assessment consisted of a quantitative part and a qualitative part. In the quantitative part of the assessment, the UN Process indicators and signal functions for emergency obstetric care were used nationwide whereas for the qualitative part, focus group discussions were conducted in representative districts regionally, to find out the health-seeking behaviour of communities when an emergency occurs in the case of the pregnant woman and/or the newborn. 

All public, private, mission, and NGO hospitals providing Maternal and Child Health services were selected. A sampling frame of community health centres (CHCs) in their health districts was developed from data received from the MoHS and Statistics Sierra Leone. A total of 145 health facilities were assessed.

The findings of this landmark assessment provide with a very solid baseline of where and what the priorities are in reducing maternal mortality in Sierra Leone. The country is starting to implement the Reproductive and Child health Strategy, which was launched by the President of Sierra Leone in February 2008.







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