Alarming newborn and maternal death crisis in rural Sierra Leone 3

Alarming newborn and maternal death crisis in rural Sierra Leone 3

A woman in labor at Waterloo Community Health Center in Sierra Leone is treated for shock and spotting with a local remedy of elevated feet.

Five midwives from the hospital attended a Helping Babies Breathe training hosted by Project HOPE and volunteers from Latter-day Saint Charities in January 2024. The week-long training covered essential skills to help resuscitate newborns and provide postnatal care that ensures babies can survive.

Midwives at Waterloo deliver about 200 babies each month, many of whom are high-risk pregnancies that were referred from outlying rural communities. Two months before our visit, the hospital opened a theater to perform C-sections, which means that more women in the area with high-risk pregnancies are now delivering at the hospital.

Before the C-section theater opened at Waterloo, women who needed one had to go to the capital, Freetown, over an hour away. Many women could not afford transportation or would choose not to get the procedure due to fear or traditional beliefs, leading to high maternal and neonatal mortality rates. Project HOPE will be providing additional support to this C-section theater after a needs assessment on this trip.

For more information, see interview transcripts with Dalanda, Adama, Fred Langeland, and Mark Sheffield.
Photos taken on January 18, 2024.

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