Pioneering maternal healthcare and reshaping Freetown’s Future – Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr’s dynamic legacies

Dr. Doma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 May 2023:

Former Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr of Freetown dedicated herself to improving healthcare and reducing maternal mortality in the city. Through various initiatives and partnerships, she made significant progress in ensuring safer pregnancies and better healthcare outcomes for mothers.

Her vision for Freetown extended beyond infrastructural development, focusing on creating a brighter future for its residents.

During her tenure, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr successfully completed an EU-funded project that brought about significant improvements to healthcare facilities in Freetown.

Notable enhancements included the expansion of the delivery room at the Greybush Peripheral Health Unit (PHU), the construction of a new post-natal ward, and the installation of essential infrastructure such as a raised perimeter wall, gate, borehole, and upgraded incinerator. These improvements greatly enhanced the quality of services provided at the Greybush PHU.

In a significant milestone, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr and Councillor Matilda Kamara participated in the handing-over ceremony of essential furniture at the Greybush PHU.

The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) generously funded the new delivery bed, five post-natal beds, chairs, and shelves. These contributions ensure that the expanded structures can be fully utilized, further improving the level of care offered at the PHU.

Mayor Aki-Sawyerr commended the hard work and dedication of Greybush Community Health Officer Foday Ambrose Marah and his team. Despite limited resources, they continued to provide vital maternity and healthcare services to vulnerable communities in Greybush and its surroundings.

The Mayor recognized the significance of supporting local healthcare providers in effectively delivering primary healthcare services to residents.

Mayor Aki-Sawyerr played a pivotal role in securing a $3.8 million, five-year grant for the Mama-Pikin Foundation. This grant supported the Sierra Leone Postgraduate College of Health Specialties in offering residency training programs in OB/GYN and Pediatrics. The grant aligns with the city council’s Transform Freetown initiative and reflects its commitment to addressing maternal mortality.

To ensure sustainable progress, the Freetown City Council (FCC) aims to increase revenue generation and collection. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr recognizes the importance of efficient tax collection in prov#iding better services to Freetown residents.

Recently, a phone-based tax collection system was launched, allowing residents to conveniently pay their local taxes using Africell Money. This system simplifies the payment process and fosters a sense of ownership and participation among Freetonians.

Mayor Aki-Sawyerr envisions a transformed Freetown where all residents have access to quality healthcare services. To address the strain on major maternal and newborn hospitals, the FCC plans to upgrade peripheral health units like Greybush and Ross Road to Basic Emergency Maternal Obstetric Natal Care (BEMONC) facilities. This project includes increasing beds, improving infrastructure, and ensuring uninterrupted power and water supply, with a focus on meeting minimum operating standards for maternal care.

Through these initiatives, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr has led the way in reducing maternal mortality in Freetown. Her commitment to the Transform Freetown framework, including the target of reducing maternal mortality by 10% by 2022, showcases her dedication to creating a brighter future for the city.

With the support of partners like CRS and the European Union, Freetown has made significant strides towards achieving its healthcare goals.

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