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MSF in Sierra Leone, 2012
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An ambulance referral system and access to 24-hour emergency obstetric care has drastically reduced maternal deaths in Bo district, Sierra Leone. The government introduced a policy of free healthcare for children under five and pregnant and breastfeeding women in 2010, but real improvements in access for these groups have not yet been achieved. Many health facilities are understaffed, underequipped and lack medical expertise, and high numbers of preventable maternal and child deaths in the country are a result of a lack of access to healthcare. In Bo, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) runs a 220-bed obstetric and pediatric hospital, the Gondama referral centre. Five ambulances transport pregnant women and children from nine community health centers. Another ambulance refers patients with complications from Gondama to the capital Freetown. Yet another is a specialized ambulance that brings patients to the Lassa fever unit at Kenema hospital. Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever that affects several organs in the body. A study published by MSF in November showed that the rate of maternal deaths in Bo district is now 61 per cent lower than in the rest of the country.
Between July and September, MSF responded to a cholera outbreak that was
Jenneba, 26 years old
This is my third pregnancy. I have had two miscarriages before. Last night I felt pain, so an ambulance picked me up from the health centre and took me to Gondama. The nurse in the ambulance held my hand and talked to me nicely during the ride. The nurses at the hospital examined me and said that I wasn’t in
Jenneba’s son was born by caesarean section 10 days later.
At the end of 2012 MSF had 556 staff in Sierra Leone. MSF started working in the country in 1986.