Despite attempts by President Ernest Bai Koroma to fight maternal mortality in Sierra Leone, many areas such as his hometown of Makeni in the North are still highly disturbed with the rapid increase in rate of maternal mortality, if civil society observers are to be believed.
The Coordinator for the Civil Society Health for All Coalition in the Bombali District Madam Jatu Massaquoi over the weekend told journalists that the recent statistics on maternal mortality at the Makeni Government Hospital has “risen drastically“.
According to her, the recent maternal mortality statistics in the district shows that a total of twelve (12) pregnant women have died at Referral Hospital in just one month-from September 1st to October 31st 2010, adding that this has been one of the highest maternal mortality reported index so far being recorded since the start of the implementation of the free health care service for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five years of age.
Madam Jatu Massaquoi however, attributed this increase to the absence of a gynaecologist at the hospital, compounded by the lateness in reporting some cases. According to her the former DMO who is a gynaecologist, Dr. Osaio Kamara has recently been transferred to the Kambia Government Hospital without any replacement, adding that Dr. Bundu, who is the only doctor in the hospital as of now, is a Bone Specialist. Additionally, she revealed, “the hospital also lacks sufficient trained and qualified Midwives to do deliveries.”
Furthermore, Mrs. Massaquoi said during her monitoring process she also observed that some of hospital nurses are not committed to their work and others are seeking employment in other private hospitals.
As a member of the Hospital Board she intimated that “there is a misunderstanding between the Hospital Board Chairman and the Medical Superintendent which has affected the smooth operations of the hospital in recent times.”
Mrs. Massaquoi went on to say that the Health For All Coalition Coordinator viewed this grievous maternal mortality situation as “an emergency” which if not handled immediately would lead to more fatalities at the hospital.
On the contrary, the Medical Superintendent for the Makeni Government Hospital Dr. Ibrahim Bundu said the statistics provided by HFA is incorrect. According to him, the hospital only recorded three maternal deaths in September and not twelve as reported by Mrs. Massaquoi in the Bombali District. He used this forum as an opportunity to throw an open challenge to the Civil Society Health for All Coalition Coordinator and any other person to check the statistics at the birth and death department in the district.
Dr. Ibrahim Bundu contested that since the start of 2010, Makeni has not recorded any increase in the rate of maternal deaths, but hastened to state that the slight increase in September was as a result of the critical nature of the cases reported, noting that the three deceased women were brought to the hospital in very critical conditions.
However, Dr. Bundu confirmed the misunderstanding between him and the Hospital Board Chairman but debunked the allegation that the impasse has in any way affected his job. He however, said that he would no longer work with the Board Chairman.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.