Since two years the Lion Heart Medical Center (LHMC) provides free screening for pregnant women and free delivery care for woman with complicated deliveries through the Healthy Baby Voucher program. The program improves access to good quality healthcare for pregnant women. In order to further improve the program and make adjustments according to the needs of pregnant women in and around Yele, Daphne and Anton Bussink conducted a research project in collaboration with district health authorities in Sierra Leone and the UMCG Global Health department in the Netherlands.
They analyzed data of more than 500 women visiting the LHMC for a pregnancy check up and found out that large numbers suffered from anemia, malaria and malnutrition. Two-third of all women were anemic, one-third had malaria (often without having symptoms) and 1 out of 10 pregnant woman was under-nourished. Pregnant women with these conditions are at risk to develop complications such as giving birth to children with a low birth weight and giving birth prematurely, which is not the best start for a newly born baby.
An additional finding of the study was that quite a big group of pregnant women were quite young, 1 out of 6 woman was younger than 19 years. Within this group malaria and anemia was even more common.
The Healthy Baby Voucher program aims to prevent anemia, malnutrition and under-nutrition during pregnancy by providing medication and supplements to pregnant women and giving health education during their visit and a weekly outreach to surrounding health centers. The findings of the research project underline the importance and led to an improvement and expansion of these activities. In the future the Lion Heart Medical Centers hopes to set up a support system for young pregnant woman because they are vulnerable group often suffering from stigma and social exclusion.
For now, LHMC continues to provide the necessary medical care for pregnant women during these challenging Covid-19 times! If you are interested to learn more about the research, you'll find the full article here.
The LHMC would like to thank all donors and stakeholders who fund and support the Healthy Baby Voucher program. With their contribution it is possible to run the program and improve the access to good quality health care for pregnant women in and around Yele.