Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 June 2021:
Healthcare, especially women’s health is a critical issue in Sierra Leone, and Orange Sierra Leone’s intervention is going a long way in saving lives.
Orange is supporting the government’s Free Quality Education programme with a $1.5 million pledged for a period of five years.
Through Orange Foundation, the company has launched a free Maternal Health Care which will target women in some of the most vulnerable communities in Sierra Leone.
During the launch of the initiative in March this year, Orange Chief Executive Officer, Aminata Kane Ndiaye said: “There are staggering figures of women losing their lives during pregnancy. These deaths can be prevented through a wide range of interventions such as this Project.”
She added that: “Together with our partners we have identified the Kroo-Bay community as one of the communities with highest percentage of maternal mortality over the years. This project shall be community based driven approach and will seek to provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to tackle risk factors associated with maternal mortality in the Kroo-bay Community.”
Kroobay, the country’s biggest slum dwelling community is the first community that has been selected for the pilot phase.
And unlike other interventions in the sector before, Orange’s own intervention is data driven, targeting some of the communities in the country that need that service most using available data from government and other expert bodies.
The intervention will see pregnant women in Kroobay get Community Health Promotion, multi-disease screening services, baby Care Boxes after delivery, maternal health services and infection prevention control measures.
Whiles highlighting the value of cooperation with Orange, Minister of Health and Sanitation, Austin Demby said: “I strongly believe that we can manage maternal mortality in this country, I strongly believe that delivering a baby will still be the happiest moment for every mother and every family in this country. We can only do it with very strong partnership. For me this is a good example and illustration of that kind of partnership, where you have a reputable corporate organization like Orange that believes in good business, but at the same time believe that there is no good business without a healthy population.”
This effort is just one among the many societal initiatives in the Orange CSR portfolio in support of the government’s FQE programme.
In Sierra Leone’s southern district of Moyamba, Orange Sierra Leone has completed the construction of another pre-school for children. The school which is situated at Korgbutuma Town in Moyamba District is one among three nursery schools that the leading telecommunication giant has constructed in Sierra Leone.
In a ceremony in Moyamba on Tuesday, the three-class room block school was formally handed over to the community. This comes just weeks after another pre-school was completed in Kambia District.
The school which has been named St Micheal Pre- School, will serve as a feeder school to primary schools in Kayamba chiefdom.
The construction of the school was undertaken by Orange Foundation – the philanthropic arm of the Orange Sierra Leone. This is part of Orange’s US$1.5 million commitment to education in Sierra Leone.
Director of Orange Foundation, Jestina Betts said the ultra-modern facility is an opportunity for children in the community to access early childhood education. She said the company will continue to support the vision of the government to strengthen education in Sierra Leone.
The school was formally opened by the Director General of National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), Daniel Kaitebie, who praised the company’s effort in ensuring it contributes to the future of children.
Chiefdom Speaker, Adu Gboyawa said the commissioning of the school is “big day” for kids in the chiefdom. Whiles appreciating the work the company is doing, he urged children and parents to make use of this opportunity. “Children are the real owners of Sierra Leone,” he said.
Another chiefdom stakeholder, Hon. Simeon Fefegula who represents the area in Parliament said: “through partnership the company has contributed a lot to national development.”
This private initiative between the government and orange health partnership is the best way forward, to tackle the alarming rate of women’s maternity deaths in our country, perhaps one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. This technology and data driven health care initiative, and in coordination with government, and increase of maternity care awareness in communities like KrooBay, and many more KrooBays up and down the country, underpinned by a robust system that identify communities most at need, this one report has highlighted after all a bottom up, not a top down approach is good for communities that it is tailored to help.
This orange approach of dealing with communities directly affected, has shown with transparency and accountability, their $1.5 million dollars CRS funding has produced more results in little less than a year than the millions of dollars that our government spends on our health care systems with nothing to show for it. If anything the lack of transparency and accountability, and with government funding disappearing in corruption infested health programmes, is a testament of why this problem of maternity deaths continues in our country.