Keeping Birth Safe in Sierra Leone During COVID-19
As the second busiest maternity hospital with the lowest maternal death rate in the country, AWC provides a vital service to women and children in Sierra Leone.
Unfortunately, with the onset of COVID-19, this vital work is at risk due to a significant increase in costs. Obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE) has become drastically more expensive worldwide. The same is the case for disinfectants and other cleaning products that are needed to ensure adequate infection control. Social distancing requirements mean families and friends are no longer able to support mothers with food during their hospital stay. In turn, this means that AWC is now providing food to patients, adding another significant cost in this time of crisis.
Due to global supply chain disruptions with the closure of airports and airlines, the price of PPE locally increased significantly, and the supplies were short throughout most of 2020. We were able, however, to secure our supplies in bulk on a quarterly basis in order to overcome this. The Tucker Foundation grant, obtained through the Aminata Maternal Foundation, to purchase PPE could not have come at a better time. Without our ability to provide sufficient PPE, we would not have been able to give our staff the confidence to continue working with us and offering our essential maternal and child services.
The Tucker Foundation grant was critical to AWC securing vital supplies and, along with unexpected donations of additional PPE items from other donors, we have been blessed with support in this crucial area. The outcomes predicted in the grant proposal are stated below – with actual outcomes and explanations for variances in bold:
- Maintain or exceed pre-COVID-19 survival rate for mothers of 99.83%: Survival rate for the period of the grant was 99.9% – we had one maternal death during that grant period
- Protect 90 health workers from COVID-19: Protected 95 health workers (hired additional five triage nurses)
- Support 1,000 women to give birth safely: 1005 women gave birth safely
- Support the safe birth of 1,050 babies: 1053 babies delivered safely
- Provide 1,000 women with nutrition support: 1005 women provided with nutrition support
- Support 200 teen mums with wraparound care, including antenatal and postnatal care, health education and literacy and numeracy training: 221 teenage mums received antenatal and postnatal care as well as their safe deliveries, plus health education. We were not able to provide the classroom based activities due to Covid.
- Immunise 3,500 children: 3531 children were immunised
- Provide services to 4,000 children in the AWC children’s clinic: 8660 consultations took place in the children’s clinic during the grant period for approximately 6000 children – a local children’s hospital closed during Covid for about six months, increasing demand for our services.
We are extremely grateful to the Tucker Foundation for its grant of vital Covid-19 funds.