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A Conversation with Sierra Leone

Published by Ian Pinnell on

Partners In Health leaders discuss the challenges and successes of PIH’s work in Sierra Leone and the urgent need for the Maternal Center of Excellence.

Bios of moderator and panelists from the webinar on the Maternal Center of Excellence
Webinar moderator and panelists.

In late October, Partners In Health leaders held a webinar panel to discuss ongoing maternal health work in Sierra Leone, looking back over the past five years and forward to what can be accomplished in the next five. John Green, best-selling author, Youtuber content creator, and passionate supporter of PIH, moderated the discussion with Dr. Bailor Barrie, Isata Dumbuya and Dr. Joia Mukherjee.

Together they discussed Sierra Leone’s history, from the trans-Atlantic slave trade and British colonization focused on resource extraction, to the 10-year civil war and recent Ebola epidemic, and the way that history continues to impact the lives of women and girls in the country today.

In Sierra Leone, women have a 1 in 20 lifetime risk of dying from a maternal cause, one of the worst rates in the world. Dr. Barrie and nurse midwife Isata Dumbuya shared their thoughts on how PIH Sierra Leone has been able to dramatically improve maternal health care in the district.

Despite these successes, there is still much more that needs to be done. As quality of care has improved at PIH-supported Koidu Government Hospital and Wellbody Clinic, the demand for services is rapidly increasing. To drive forward this work, PIH is establishing a Maternal Center of Excellence (MCOE) in rural Kono District, Sierra Leone at PIH-supported Koidu Government Hospital.

“We’re doing such a great job but we are also at maximum capacity, which is why the Maternal Center of Excellence cannot come soon enough.” – Isata Dumbuya

In partnership with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, PIH will build, equip and staff the 120-bed MCOE, which will include a neonatal intensive care unit, expanded facilities for routine deliveries and obstetric emergencies, and other key services to provide a comprehensive package of inpatient and outpatient care for women and children. The MCOE will also serve as a hub of innovation, research and education to train health care professionals, a key strategy in strengthening the country’s health care system.

Watch the full webinar to learn more about the anticipated impact of the MCOE on maternal health in Sierra Leone, and its implications for maternal care around the world.

PIH Engage (a grassroots network in the United States) and Students for PIH Canada are working together to raise $100,000 to support maternal health care in Sierra Leone and the MCOE. Learn more about the campaign in Canada and how you can get involved.

Make a donation to support this critical work, or sign up to fundraise and get your friends & family involved in the movement for the right to health care for all.


See how PIH Canada, with support from Global Affairs Canada, is supporting the health and rights of women and girls in Sierra Leone and Malawi.

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