A BROKEN CALABASH… A NEW UNFPA FILM PRODUCTION ON MATERNAL MORTALITY IN SIERRA LEONE
Freetown- 25 June 2010-- The United Nations Population Fund in Freetown Sierra Leone has produced a film on maternal mortality in Sierra Leone entitled, A Broken Calabash...Maternal Mortality in Sierra Leone: Causes and Interventions. The film explores causes arising from socio-cultural traditions as well as modern conditions that impact on a women's maternal health and subsequent mortality or morbidity in Sierra Leone. Equally highlighted is the absence of essential infrastructure and communication that makes health care inaccessible to women living in remote rural areas.
The objective of this film documentary is to draw attention to the challenges of poverty, illiteracy; low human development that underlie these causes. Increasing numbers of adolescent pregnancies resulting either from the traditional social practice of early marriage or urban trends are also becoming noticeable causes of maternal deaths. The film is of fifteen minute duration.
In more remote rural communities traditional practices limit women's choices on marriage, education, family planning and home or hospital delivery. In addition, are those delays caused by the absence of ambulances, or public transportation. Horrendous road networks in a district like Koindadugu or some parts of diamond rich Kono, especially during the rain season which lasts for six months, will also impact on the fate of women in labour.
According to current statistic figures from the District Health Survey for 2008, only twenty-five percent of all women in Sierra Leone deliver their babies in the hospital. The recently launched free health service for pregnant women however, may alter this currently dismal picture, as might the renovation of devastated district health facilities.
Interventions of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sierra Leone have been significant in shaping direction toward maternal mortality reduction. The training of 100 nurse anesthetists, over fifty percent of whom have graduated; recruitment of twenty-five early retired midwives to bolster staff capacity in district hospitals where there is a severe shortage of midwives. The production of the fifteen minute film documentary, "A Broken Calabash—Maternal Mortality in Sierra Leone" (in which these challenges are highlighted), is yet another step toward raising awareness and response to the sad plight of Sierra Leonean women for whom child birth is often a nightmare.