In an attempt to buttress Government’s efforts in the fight to reduce maternal mortality in Liberia, particularly in rural communities, Africare-Liberia has completed the construction of seven maternal waiting homes in Bong County.
According to Africare country director Ernest Gaie, the homes were built following a survey by his organization that established that most pregnant women encountered labor complications at community clinics as the result of late referral by traditional birth attendants operating in towns and villages.
Mr. Gaie was swift to inform the community dwellers that the waiting homes are constructed in communities where clinics are situated and are mainly used as residential facilities by pregnant women who are not inhabitants of host clinic communities until delivery.
“As a result of our interventions with construction of maternal waiting homes in Bong County, there is an unparalleled decline in home delivery by traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in various towns and villages where Africare-Liberia operates in the county” Mr. Gaie explained.
The Africare-Liberia country director further disclosed that there has been significant improvement relating to maternal health in Bong County since his organization initiated the construction of maternal waiting homes in communities it has clinics.
“Pregnant women come from our catchment communities from seven months and wait at the maternal waiting homes until they give birth” Mr. Gaie said.
He told the Daily Observer that his organization is succeeding in the fight to reduce maternal deaths evidenced by the increase of the number of referral of pregnant women to the various health posts and hospitals by the TBAs.
The Africare boss hailed the TBAs for their efforts in supporting the campaign to fight and reduce maternal mortality in their communities.
He named the communities as Yeila and Zaybay in Kpaii District, Bellemu in Panta District, Janjay in Jorquelleh District, Salala in Salala District and Haindii in Fuamah District. In these areas, his organization has built maternal waiting homes under the Child Survival Project. The project has been funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Speaking at the dedicatory ceremony in Haindii over the weekend, Bong County Electoral District #7 Representative Corpu Barclay extolled the medical charity for its strategic interventions in the county.
Representative Barclay maintained that the construction of the maternal homes in rural communities serves as complementary factor in the execution of responsibilities of the TBAs. This will further help to minimize maternal mortalities in the county.
In the past, said the Bong County lawmaker, there were constant reports of maternal deaths across the county but with the introduction of the maternal waiting homes, she believed that the programme has helped to diminish maternal mortalities.
“We as leaders will also help to reinforce the Ministry of Health mandate which requires traditional midwives not to do single delivery at home but rather at the clinics or health posts,” Representative Barclay pledged.
The construction of the maternal waiting homes by Africare-Liberia is in support of the roadmap to accelerate the reduction of maternal mortality in Liberia by 2015, in keeping with goal five of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The roadmap seeks to lessen the maternal mortality ratio from 994 deaths/100,000 live births to 497; reduce the neonatal mortality ratio from 32 deaths/ 1,000 live births 16 and reduce stillbirth from 27/ 1,000 live births to 14.
It remains unclear whether Liberia will meet the 2015 benchmark, particularly in the health sector in the face of the existing challenges. These include limited budgetary allocation, inadequate trained manpower, poor geographical distribution of available skilled medical personnel and low salaries and incentives for accessible personnel.