On 7th February 2014, The President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma commissioned two fully equipped Maternity Centers in Kenema and Bo Districts. Bo and Kenema hospitals are two of the 27 health facilities that were rehabilitated by UNFPA Sierra Leone as part of the US$28.5 million Strengthening of District Health Systems Project (SDHSP), which the government of Sierra Leone and AfDB signed in 2005. The objective of the project was to strengthen and increase access to equitable and affordable basic health services in five districts namely, Bo and Bonthe in the Southern province, Kenema in the Eastern Province, Tonkolili and Port Loko in the Northern Province.
Officially commissioning the facilities, H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, the president of Sierra Leone noted “the commissioning of these facilities today is a clear indication of the Government’s commitment to improve the health of all Sierra Leoneans – especially women and children”. The President also expressed his gratitude to AfDB and UNFPA and added that getting new health facilities with state of the art hospital equipment and infrastructure is a major milestone in his Free Health Care Initiative and the Government‘s 5-year development plan, Agenda for Prosperity.
Speaking at the official commissioning ceremony, UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi said “today we can say with confidence that we have achieved the objectives of the SDHSproject with the completion of all the 27 health facilities in five districts”
In addition to increasing access to basic health services, another major objective of the project is to ensure delivery and utilization of quality comprehensive emergency obstetrics and newborn care services in hospitals in Sierra Leone, a vital intervention towards accelerating maternal mortality reduction in a country with one of the worst maternal health indicators in the world (857 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births – 2008 DHS).
The newly constructed maternity centers are equipped with the requisite technical, operational and organizational capacity so that they are fully prepared to receive and treat women with critical obstetrics complications. Both Kenema and Bo hospitals have been now upgraded to fully functional CEmONC centers so that emergency cases relating to pregnancy/delivery and childbirth can be promptly and adequately attended to. UNFPA is confident that the commissioning of the maternity centers will further strengthen its health interventions in Sierra Leone and will help to sustain the progress made so far in health sector in Sierra Leone.