fbpx

Global Affairs Canada partnership elevates health and rights of women and girls in Sierra Leone and Malawi

Published by admin on

APZU Community Health Worker Grace Mgaiwa (right) walks with Eliza Kazembe (left) during a maternal health home visit near PIH-supported Lisungwi Community Hospital in Neno District, Malawi.
APZU Community Health Worker Grace Mgaiwa (right) walks with Eliza Kazembe (left) during a maternal health home visit near PIH-supported Lisungwi Community Hospital in Neno District, Malawi. Eliza said her health at nine months was good and she was excited to give birth, but joked that it felt like she had been due “forever.” She planned to go to the maternal waiting home at Lisungwi Community Hospital in about a week, to await delivery. (Photo by Karin Schermbrucker / for PIH)

Thousands of women and girls served by Partners In Health in Sierra Leone and Malawi will be empowered to access gender-responsive health services and realize their right to health through support from Global Affairs Canada.

The five-year, $12-million project with PIH Canada, launched in 2019 and running until 2024, will improve access to sexual and reproductive health services, strengthen prevention and treatment for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and increase the availability of high-quality obstetric care in Kono District, Sierra Leone, and Neno, Malawi. Supported initiatives will directly impact more than 80,000 people, all while strengthening public sector health systems for long-term transformation in partnership with the Sierra Leonean and Malawian governments.

“This partnership will enable us to provide high quality comprehensive community and facility care for sexual and reproductive health services including SGBV for many women and adolescents, contributing to increased knowledge and resilience in this population,” said Dr. Emilia Connolly, Chief Medical Officer of Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (APZU), as PIH is called in Malawi. “The planning process for the project has already led to new collaborations, exciting ideas, an expanded staff and new ways of engaging with women and youth, and we are looking forward to many positive impacts over the coming years”.

In Sierra Leone, the project has already bolstered staff capacity and equipment for the maternity ward at Koidu Government Hospital in Kono, an eastern region known for its diamond mines and role in the country’s decade-long civil war. Support from Global Affairs Canada will enable PIH to improve quality of care in a country where 1 in 17 women runs a lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth.

Nurse Midwife Isata Dumbuya stands in the delivery room at Koidu Government Hospital which is being supported through the Global Affairs Canada project
Nurse Midwife Isata Dumbuya stands in the delivery room at Koidu Government Hospital in Kono, Sierra Leone. (Photos by John Ra / Partners In Health)

“This initiative is and will continue to be transformative to the women and girls of Kono, enabling us to provide the high-quality, patient-centred care every person deserves,” said Isata Dumbuya, PIH Sierra Leone’s reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health lead. “The support of Global Affairs Canada will bring much-needed resources to the health care workers on the front lines, elevating clinical capacity and team morale. Staff are more invested in improving maternal and neonatal outcomes because they now know they will have the tools and training to do so.”

The need for improved sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services is urgent given the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities and health systems. The pandemic and associated lockdown measures have limited access to essential SRHR services due to supply chain disruptions and women choosing to stay home, while also increasing women’s vulnerability to SGBV.  

In Malawi, the project recently offered an innovative training on SGBV, the results of which are shifting attitudes and treatment protocols among health providers.

At a time when global solidarity is being put to the test, PIH Canada is deeply grateful for the support of Global Affairs Canada and the dramatic improvements in health and livelihood outcomes these resources will make possible for vulnerable populations and communities we serve.


See how PIH is also strengthening SGBV treatment and support in Haiti with support from Global Affairs Canada.

Every person, no matter who they are or where they’re from, deserves the best health care we know how to offer.

Join us in building a more just and equitable world by making a gift today.