From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, TBAs Wage War Against Maternal Deaths
By
Dec 20, 2010, 12:32

In an effort to reduce the high infant and maternal mortality in the country, UNFPA in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare have supported Traditional Births Attendants (TBAs) in all fifteen chiefdoms in Bo district to embark on massive advocacy on the need for pregnant women to deliver in hospitals and the need for TBA’S to do all deliveries in hospitals together with a train and qualified mid-wife. The campaign also looked at gender based violence, HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, early initiation of girls into the Bondo society amongst others.

The campaign was organized simultaneously in all fifteen chiefdoms by the TBA’S and partners, who were all dedicated  and committed to the objectives of the campaign .Over one hundred TBAs  took part in the  campaign and community meetings, village–to-village outreach and traditional drama formed part of the programmes throughout the fifteen chiefdoms. The chiefdoms include Kakua, Baoma, Valunia, Bagbo, Lugbu, Gbo and Selenga.

The campaign targeted vibrant young adult who are sexually active.

In Tikonko, traditional birth attendants flooded the township with their slogans “stop home deliveries take all pregnant women to hospitals”. The residents at Tikonko converge at the Community Health Centre to listen to the TBA’S and other partners.

Kai Jigba, Chief of the TBA’s in Tikonko dilated on the relevance of the campaign to the fight against gender base violence and high maternal death.

She echoed the need for TBAs to work collectively with midwives in all deliveries, whilst emphasizing that all deliveries should be done at community health centres.

Chief Kai Jigba on behalf of the TBAs appealed to government and UN agencies to improve the welfare of TBAs, noting that they are not on payroll like state enrolled nurses. She pointed out that these TBAs are the primary contact for all deliveries in suburb communities.

She requested for small scale micro-finance loans for TBAs so that they can engage themselves in business.

The Chief explained that prior to the establishment of the free health care scheme, delivery was the only source of income for them. “But with the free health care policy now at work, pregnant women no longer pay for deliveries,” she disclosed.

Chief Kai Jigba lauded UNFPA and the Gender Ministry for bringing them on board at a time when they felt excluded as a result of the free health care policy.



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