First facility since Ebola ready to provide EmONC in Sierra Leone

Thursday, 17 Mar 2016
Sierra Leone has recently confirmed that the Pujehun Government Hospital is ready and able to provide emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) services. This is the first facility that has been certified since the outbreak of Ebola in 2014.

An assessment, conducted in November 2015, reported that the hospital, located in the hard to reach district of Pujehun, is now fully EmONC compliant, meaning that the facility met the necessary requirements set out by the Government of Sierra Leone.

This is a welcome and significant development as since 2013, there haven’t been any facilities in Sierra Leone reaching the required standards for provision of EmONC services. Even before the Ebola outbreak, Sierra Leone had some of the worst maternal and newborn health indicators in the world, with 1,165 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and 39 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births (2013)[i]. The outbreak in 2014 further weakened the health system leading to increases in the numbers of maternal and newborn deaths.

Providing EmONC services is a key priority for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation for improving maternal, newborn and child health in the country. The long term target is to equip all public hospitals and community health centres with the resources needed to provide quality EmONC services.

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) is supporting the Government of Sierra Leone through a four-year programme, Improving Reproductive Maternal and Newborn Health. The objective is to increase the use of quality family planning, reproductive, maternal and newborn health services with a focus on young people in Sierra Leone.  The programme is being delivered by three implementing partners: UNICEF, UNFPA and Marie Stopes Sierra Leone. Options is supporting the management of the programme, ensuring the programme has good coordination, avoids duplication of effort, maximises value for money, and that the results are shared so that others can learn from effective approaches.

We are supporting the government to follow selected facilities through a six monthly facility improvement team (FIT) assessment exercise, to see how they are progressing towards EmONC compliance. The FIT exercise involves assessing seven critical factors, known as enablers. These include:

  • Water and sanitation
  • Electricity
  • Referral systems
  • Blood and laboratory services
  • Drugs and supplies
  • Equipment for special procedures
  • Staffing

The information generated during FIT is used by the central government, district health management teams and development partners to address the gaps identified and improve the quality of maternal health services delivered.

The post Ebola recovery plan identifies EmONC facilities as a key priority in the health sector. We are continuing to support building resilient health system, which will include helping more facilities to achieve EmONC status and improved maternal and newborn care across Sierra Leone.

[i] Statistics Sierra Leone & ICF International. (2014). Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey 2013. Freetown: SSL & ICF International.

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