Mercy Corps, Health Ministry Target Maternal and Infant Mortality

BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – Mercy Corps has collaborated with the Ministry of Health to launch a project geared towards strengthening maternal and infants’ health services in Liberia.

The Strengthening Maternal and Infants’ Healthcare in Liberia project, more succinctly known as SAFE, was launched at the Liberian Government Hospital in Buchanan over the weekend with support from the United Arab Emirates.

The first phase of the project will target vulnerable rural women in Grand Bassa, with plans to extend to the rest of the country. Although it is being launched now, SAFE had a soft launch in Dec. 2019 and will end in Nov. 2020.

Speaking at the program’s launch, Health Minister Wilhelmina Jallah expressed optimism that SAFE would strengthen not only health facilities but will also help communities reduce maternal and newborn deaths.

“Under this program, we want to make sure that women can go the different areas for their antenatal care, and make sure that they have [a] safe delivery, and that they understand all of the emergencies which could happen. Our midwives are important; our babies are important, and our mothers are also important,” Jallah said.

“If the program is successful, then at least we can tell our people we did well, please come back and do more. But first, we must play our part, so they can play their part.”

Jallah noted that one of the best ways to assess the success of the project will be when children and their mothers are taken care of, and become healthy within the communities. She then called upon local authorities and citizens of Grand Bassa to take ownership of the project to ensure its success.

The manager of SAFE, Augustine Newray, emphasized the project’s goal of addressing the root causes and challenges that affect the provision of maternal and child health care services in Liberia. He noted that the project would aim to improve the health status of 15,000 women of reproductive age and children in five rural communities in Liberia.

He added that if national and community-level health institutions are equipped with adequate skills, systems, and funding, and if women have the knowledge and access points to prenatal and antenatal care, then increased trust and use of services would contribute to a reduction in maternal and infant mortality rates.

Grand Bassa’s county health officer, Dr. Anthony Tucker, said the selection of Grand Bassa was due to the dire need for health services in the county. He said the Liberian Government Hospital and other facilities across the county face a lack of equipment, drugs, and fuel, and low staff motivation.

SAFE will work with ten clinics and the Liberian Government Hospital, and Tucker is hopeful that it will bring some relief to the county’s health system.

Liberia is one of the world’s most dangerous countries to give birth in, with the maternal mortality rate cited at 1,072 deaths per every 100,000 live births.

A low number of skilled and motivated health workers, combined with low access to ante and post-natal care services puts the lives of women and children under five-years-old at significant risk.

Featured photo by GPE/Kelley Lynch

Sampson David

Sampson G. David is a journalist with over eight years of experience. He is a deputy manager at the Diahn-Blae Community Radio Station, a correspondent of the Liberia Broadcasting System, and a sophomore student at Starz College of Science and Technology, studying Management Information Systems.

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