By Jonathan Abass Kamara and Kadrie Koroma
The UNICEF’s Health Manager, Dr. Nuzhat Rafique has expressed the need to engage communities for the survival of mothers and newborn in Sierra Leone.
UNICEF’s Health Manager, Dr. Nuzhat Rafique
Addressing a two day workshop organized by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation Directorate of Reproductive and Child Health on Friday August 19, 2016 at the Sahara Hotel in Makeni on the Agenda for Bottleneck Analysis to review and finalize the Newborn Care Protocol Tool, Dr. Rafique underscored the importance of the event noting the vicious cycle of newborn deaths in the country.
She reiterated the need for community engagement, adding that saving newborn is one of the strategies to save mothers, and hope for a major change of reducing maternal mortality in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Rafique spoke of malaria, anaemia and malnutrition as a challenge for the reduction of maternal and newborn deaths, and the high incidence and indicator ranking Sierra Leone as one of the highest for maternal and child mortality, and commended the Ministry of Health and Sanitation for identifying strategies that would help make a meaningful impact.
Making his statement, the Director of Reproductive and Child Health, Dr. Santigie Sesay reminded participants that maternal and infant mortality are very high in Sierra Leone but that it is imperative to address newborn care by taking cognisant of the life of mothers that gave birth to these children.
He said part of their objectives would be to finalize the document already developed with a view to having it linked with international standard, and with the expectation to scale up quality free health care.
Dr. Sesay reiterated the need for them as health care providers to remain focus and sensitize communities about the importance of the newborn child noting that it is where life starts for the survival and upbringing of the child.
He expressed the need for participants to prioritize newborn care, identify the gaps, and the role of the Ministry and the government as they review and identify the gaps to put together an action plan that would guide the Ministry to address newborn care in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Sesay on behalf of the Ministry and government thanked UNICEF and other partners for their continued support in the fight against maternal and child mortality in the country.
Deputy Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Haja Fatmata Mansaray noted that the huge workforce in the medical profession is the bulk of nurses, accounted for over 80 percent, adding that they would be able to succeed in the management of newborn care if nurses are strategically placed onboard.
Nurses she said, if provided a conducive working environment and the necessary support with capacity building, can make the expected difference. She advocated for the training and recruitment of more midwives in various peripheral health units to strengthen output.
She also advocated for career pathway and advancement in midwifery with degree programmes, maintaining that there is no way they can put Sierra Leone first if the indices are still high with deaths among women and children, hoping that the Reproductive and Child Health Directorate in the Ministry would work towards the trend highlighted to promote maternal and newborn care in the country.
Other highlights of the workshop include presentations on the status of newborn health in the African Region and Sierra Leone, Bottleneck Analysis tool on every newborn, discussions on development of draft country every newborn action plan and statement from the Director of Primary Health Care and Chairman for the occasion, Dr. Joseph Kand