We join a Maternal Outreach Program (MOP) to provide maternal health services and information to pregnant women in remote areas in Sierra Leone.
Masanga hospital has developed a new service, called Maternal Outreach Program (MOP). The purpose of this program is to improve maternal health in remote areas in Tonkolili district, Sierra Leone, by empowering communities and locally increasing accessibility of medical services.
The project focusses on pregnant women in rural areas that often face multiple barriers in reaching a hospital, due to poverty, lack of transport or poor infrastructure. This is achieved through interventions by especially equipped ambulances aimed at:
- Training of selected villagers as ‘Maternity Agents’ who can advocate their fellow townswomen for family planning, safer pregnancies and deliveries.
- Making timely diagnoses by running antenatal ultrasound scanning and organizing referrals of high-risk pregnant women to nearest hospitals.
- Conveying crucial messages about when to seek medical care and general recommendations on hygiene, nutrition and health related behavior.
Sierra Leone is one of the world’s least developed countries and has a Maternal Mortality Rate of 1120 per 100.000 live births. The vast majority of maternal mortality can be reduced by simple low-cost interventions to hard-to-reach areas, focusing on diagnostics of pregnant women as well as early treatment of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.
The opportunity of visiting these villages can also be seized to educate these women on prevention and access to contraception. The local population can be informed on hygiene, nutrition and health related behavior.
In order to gain people’s trust and to be able to provide these medical services, the MOP staff is working together with local Maternity Agents who operate from Peripheral Health Units (PHU’s) in the villages.
Fit with WNSF
The interventions will be carried out by Maternal Health Officers, who are partially recruited out of our sponsored students.
As training of these students is at the center of the WNSF mission, this kind of rendering obstetrics services in the field offers a good work experience to the advanced training. Students learn more and become more aware of the specific challenges of rural health care.
An additional motivation to participate in this program is the conviction that this kind of rural health care will ultimately lead to greater prosperity for the communities and indirectly support their economies.