Sierra Leone: Healthy babies – your donations at work

Read Tanya’s previous posts from her trip to Sierra Leone

I’m often asked if aid agencies are wasting money by using 4×4 vehicles, after travelling the roads of Kailahun today I can re-assure them it is generally the only option.

Friday’s rains gave the roads a real hammering and on Saturday morning it took us nearly 3 hours to travel around 25 miles on.

It made the welcome from the community of Jojoima all the more overwhelming from the Paramount Chief through to the children’s group who acted out a specially devised play.

Local help

But this wasn’t just for our arrival, they were also celebrating for another reason – there were four healthy newborns in the newly built emergency obstetric centre.

The prospect of a referral to the hospital is a terrifying one for a women in the advanced stages of labour – the roads can be impassable and there is no transportation other than a motorbike, if you are lucky.

The emergency obstetric centre in Jojoima is in effect a halfway house and can deal with many complications. It is the 2nd one we have established in the district and it seems to be paying off.

The techniques used at this centre are simple but incredibly effective and having seen the results we need to seriously consider how we can fund more.

Sunday

Back on the road this morning but this time a tarmac one and back to Freetown. It has been an incredibly rewarding few days.

18 months ago there was a very ambitious commitment made by the government of Sierra Leone to provide free healthcare for under 5’s and pregnant mums.

As an aid agency who has been closely involved with advocating for and helping to support it’s implementation I can honestly say I’ve been pleased and surprised by the impact on ordinary people’s lives.

Progress but more to do

Yet it is clear that there is so much more to do to embed the improved healthcare practices and importantly to take a step beyond this still very basic level of care for young children and mums.

But for a short moment at least we should take heart and pride in what has been achieved for children – and hope that there is no turning back.

Read Tanya’s previous posts from her trip to Sierra Leone

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