Objective: To conduct a needs assessment for emergency obstetric care (EmOC) to address the unacceptably high maternal and newborn mortality indices in Sierra Leone 8 years after the end of the civil war.
Methods: From June to August 2008, a cross-sectional survey was conducted of health facilities in Sierra Leone offering delivery services. Assessment tools were local adaptations of tools developed by the Averting Maternal Death and Disability program at Columbia University, New York, USA.
Results: There were enough comprehensive EmOC (CEmOC) facilities in the country but they were poorly distributed. There were no basic EmOC (BEmOC) facilities. Few facilities (37% of hospitals and 2% of health centers) were able to perform assisted vaginal delivery (AVD), and 3 potentially BEmOC facilities did not meet the standard only because they did not perform AVD. Severe shortages in staff, equipment, and supplies, and unsatisfactory supply of utilities severely hampered the delivery of quality EmOC services. Demand for maternity and newborn services was low, which may have been related to the poor quality and the high/unpredictable out-of-pocket cost of such services.
Conclusion: Significant increases in the uptake of institutional delivery services, the linkage of remote health workers to the health system, and the recruitment of midwives, in addition to rapid expansion in the training of health workers (including training in midwifery and obstetric surgery skills), are urgently needed to improve the survival of mothers and newborns.
Copyright © 2011 International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.