Bring your own water, bring your own blood – the perils of giving birth in Sierra Leone

Memuna Forna: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 February 2021:

Bring your own water! Bring your own blood! Filth encrusted speculum supplied. Sierra Leone’s doctors return to their country to make a difference. These are the conditions under which they are forced to work, and treat patients.

There is a critical shortage of nurses, dentists, health professionals and doctors. With only 150 doctors working in the public sector, it is not surprising that the health statistics for Sierra Leone are within the bottom quartile for least developed countries, with life expectancy of 51.3 years and under 5 mortality between 120 and 156 per 1000 live births.

During the Ebola epidemic, Sierra Leone lost 250 of its medical staff, weakening an already desperate health system even further.

When last year medical staff went on strike, protesting against the lack of protective equipment, medical supplies and resources for the fight against COVID, the government appointee in charge of the COVID-19 response, suggested many of them were in the medical profession for the wrong reasons.

Mother’s Day is a national holiday in Sierra Leone. We can do so much more to keep them from dying.

Sierra Leone’s Princess Christian Maternity Hospital theatre relies on packet water because running water is rarely available.

The following twitter comments describe the day-to-day reality of Sierra Leone’s primary maternity hospital, where drugs and equipment aren’t available, where doctors scrub up before operations using tiny plastic sachets of water because running water is scarce, and the staff wouldn’t consider giving birth there themselves.

Dr Catherine Jackson-Jones said: “No water for the major maternal referral centre in Siera Leone…! One year ago, it was the same struggle, I left things smoldering. I am back and still same issue! What are we doiong? This is stupid.

Marcella Ryan-Coker said: It was the same when I was House Officer almost 3 years ago. We had to pay the cleaners to fetch water in gallons so we could have shower when we were on call…..







  1. This is a country were politicians are paid huge amounts of money but health workers like emergency workers, are not getting paid and we keep saying we are independent. We still need international bodies to come to our aid, or else there will be an increase again in maternal and child mortality in Sierra Leone.

  2. Sometimes when issues like this is raised, one has to think intuitively and ask the reason why? It is in the city where you see people go around at night, cut water pipes wilfully to fetch water without being questioned by any citizen around. All you could hear them say is “lef am e sef wan wata”. Little do we know that these practices are affecting us directly or indirectly. Who knows whether the pipe tampered with is directly running to public structures such as the PCMH to name but a few. Sierra Leoneans we need to change our attitudes toward such practices otherwise government will come and go yet we will still be facing problems of such.

  3. The problem with some of us Sierra Leoneans, we are good at defending the indefensible. Today we have highly educated, and experienced people, who know the facts and the realities of every day life in Sierra Leone, but just brush those facts and realities aside and choose whatever interests they harbours or stand to benefit in promoting misleading statements in favour of this government that has failed every one including their grassroots supporters. Even when we are faced with an overwhelming independent outside assessment, that paints a picture that is not favourable to what we imagined our country should be, instead of what it is today.

    Year in year out, it has become a time honoured thing. Statistics have shown our country is lacking behind in terms of human development index. We always find ourselves competing for the bottomless list of any sort of development. I lost my cousin and Aunt, whilst they were trying to give birth back in 1989 and 1990 respectively. Almost thirty years later, our country hasn’t shifted the dail, or moved the needle one bit, in terms of prevention, or protection for expectant mothers in Sierra Leone. If anything and going by this report, it has got worse rather than better. Like every thing in Sierra Leone, our country is moving backwards, instead of foward.

    And Bio and his government make sure it stays that way. And for us, it is the only way we can measure their performance. We all want development to take place in Sierra Leone. We are critical of this not because we are key-board warriors, but what we see as complete failure of the government to improve the standard of living for tbe ordinary man and woman in our country.

  4. Look! Look at that! Look at those shameless toilet sinks without running water in a prominent hospital in the land of silver and gold. A disgraceful and disgusting situation in one of our country’s leading hospitals. The people at the helm of authority are busy embezzling the country’s finances at will, whilst our women suffer at their only affordable hospital. That is unacceptable. Is that fair to our women? They will soon blame the APC for all their failures, including this one. I agree with Stargazer’s comment – “Had the ACC been a transparent body we would have been fully aware of how much money has been retrieved thus far, and then those revenues would have been wisely disbursed to hospitals and others, in dire need of urgent financial assistance”.

    But, the ACC is now part of the problem in fighting corruption in Sierra Leone. As long as the embattled ACC boss is giving deaf ears to corrupt practices by people next to the president, corruption will continue in full force, and no better development will take place in the country. All we will see till 2023 are development projects haphazardly done or promised but not done at all. Why not investigate the millions of dollars alleged squandered by the First Lady Fatima Bio. If found guilty, she must return the money to the consolidated fund. Then, we can renovate the hospital and replace those shameless toilet sinks without water. Bottom line, it is all jack of all trades and master of none. What the hell is going on and what disgusting information due to reckless priorities by the Bio SLPP kakiistocracy. God bless our great country’s women and give them the next sober-minded regime, to take care of their health and maternity needs. Amen and Amen. Father God.

  5. This is a big disgrace. This president is a fake person and undermines the success of our nation. He has no clue and idea of how to fix that tiny economy, instead he has positioned all his tribe’s men to occupy very important positions that needs efficiency. He has grossly failed us and need to be impeached with immediate effect – and all Parliamentarians fired and sent to hard labor.

  6. Now this: ” Sierra Leone’s Princess Christian Maternity Hospital Theatre relies on packet water because running water is rarely available” Totally dispiriting and disgraceful stuff for any progressive pragmatic thinking mind to ponder, contemplate and brood over. Folks, the good news is that our fragile nation is still on a life-support machine struggling to survive; every moment that comes and goes is wrapped up in challenges. And the bad news is that the incompetent SLPP Cabal is doing absolutely nothing to resuscitate her.

    Since day one, I have always emphasized the need for our priorities to be in order but such prudent advice was waved off and replaced with disorganized, unworkable approach ongovernance. What is exactly the point of buying all those expensive SUVs, when hospitals are desperately in need of blood supplies for poor patients who are vulnerable pregnant mothers, medicines, running water, hand washing soaps and antiseptics? Folks, the sad news is that these SLPP criminals now in power have been quietly robbing our nation blind under the gaze of the ACC. Had the ACC been a transparent body we would have been fully aware of how much money has been retrieved thus far, and then those revenues would have been wisely disbursed to hospitals and others, in dire need of urgent financial assistance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.