From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, UNFPA Trains 50 TBAs in Bombali
Aug 31, 2010, 17:14

As part of their community empowerment activities within ĎProgramme 18í of the United Nations Joint Mission in Sierra Leone, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has concluded a two-day stakeholdersí planning and training workshop for 50 Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in the Bombali District, northern Sierra Leone, as one of the selected areas for the August/ September pilot phase of the programme.

The two daysí training session that took place from the 26th¬†to 28th¬†August, 2010 at the Amza Hotel in Makeni catered for community birth attendants,¬† health personnel of Primary Health Units, line Ministries, the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police and the media within the northern province.

Participant Contributing

Giving an outline of the project, UNFPA Program Manager for Gender and Advocacy, Madam Isatu Kajue said the training session was focused on enhancing and capacitating the participants in carrying out their roles in addressing Gender Based Violence (GBV incidents, maternal mortality complications and HIV prevention, equally as it enhances community elders in monitoring the issues indicated, providing support to GBV survivors and general support to the health sector. 

She disclosed that UNFPA is working in consonance with governmentís Agenda for Change designed to reduce the underlying factors of poverty such as teenage pregnancy, infant and maternal mortality and corruption among others.¬† She associated most maternal deaths with teenage pregnancy, rape and early marriage, while admonishing TBAs to ensure that complicated cases are being referred to the nearest health centres or hospitals, and to discourage the frequent act of attending to birth at home.

Mrs. Nasu Fofana in Session

In her presentation Dr. Jaria Kabba of the Reproductive Health Unit of UNFPA informed that the issue of reproductive health care is very important, noting that it affects both men and women considering family problems like stress. She said it was against that backdrop that government has introduced the Free Health Care Policy to make sure all pregnant women, suckling mothers and children under age five receive medical attention free of cost aimed at reducing the frequent occurrences of maternal and infant deaths in the country.

Dr. Kabba advised the TBAs to always give the correct advice to pregnant women whenever they visit them. She impressed on the need for Ante-Natal clinics to be accessible to pregnant women where they can get support and education on family health as psychological advantage to the childhood of their children, and where also the progress of pregnant women are being monitored.

Mrs. Kajue and Fofana during Training

She also dilated on the advantages of family planning as a way for women to space their children.¬† ďFamily planning is different from abortion, and the use of pills does not kill an unborn child but rather helps to space children,Ē Dr. Kabba furthered, sating it is one of the safest and recommended ways of reducing birth rates.¬† She also called on the TBAs to be very supportive of each other to educate teenagers about sex and HIV.

Making a statement on gender related issues, the Gender Affairs Officer of UNFPA, Madam Nasu Fofana noted the vulnerability of women and girls when it comes to the issue of gender based violence.  She said it was for such reason that attention had been put on the welfare of girls and women to demonstrate that they need to be protected. She described violence in the form of physical, economic and psychological as the most common in our homes, while warning against early marriage for which she said community members must ensure that girls are sent to marry when they are over 18 years of age.  She especially pleaded with them to send their girl children to school to discourage early marriage.

TBAs During Training

Director of Society for Democracy Initiative, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Esq. gave a brief talk on Understanding the Domestic Violence Act. He said the Act outlined various categories of violence and the penalties for violating any one of them.¬† He on that note underscored the important role of the police and the law courts in prosecuting incidences of violence.¬† ďIt is the responsibility of the police to arrest and charge matters relating to violence to court; and in turn it is the responsibility of the courts to ensure that they look into the matter and decide on it,Ē the director proffered.¬† He also informed that community members too have right to cause or even effect arrest of perpetrators of violence against children and women.

The training which was described as very timely and educative by participants ended with the formation of Chiefdom Advocacy Groups headed by UNFPA partners operating in the selected areas.

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