By Foday Moriba Conteh
In trying to deepen socio-economic transformation, President Julius Maada Bio on Thursday 17th October 2019, officially opened the King Harman Maternal and Child Hospital. The hospital is a comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care health facility constructed by UNFPA, funded by the UK Government, and supported by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio said “The importance of investments in quality care and patient safety is portrayed by Government’s commitment to improving the status of our hospitals across the country. We have invested in and will continue to invest in constructing and equipping new hospitals across the country. One of such is this King Harman Hospital, which provides secondary level care to the people of this community and its environs,”
The hospital will make a vital contribution to reducing maternal deaths in the country, where one in 17 women bear a lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth. Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, and also very high child, infant, and neonatal mortality rates. The hospital will seek to improve this by providing a full range of maternal and newborn care health services, including much-needed, quality comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, British High Commissioner, Mr. Simon Mustard said,
“I am delighted that our partnership with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, and with UNFPA, has led us here today to open the King Harman Maternity and Child Hospital. Every day this hospital will protect and save the lives of mothers and their children, providing the vital expertise and equipment needed.”
The UK Department for International Development’s (DfID) Saving Lives Programme, which works in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, has provided £6.5 million to UNFPA to construct, refurbish, and equip eight facilities across Sierra Leone. These facilities, including King Harman Road and Rokupa hospitals, now provide emergency obstetric and newborn care to international standards. The Saving Lives Programme is also supporting the training of midwives in all three midwifery schools in the country.
UNFPA Sierra Leone Country Representative, Dr. Kim Eva Dickson remarked at the event, “UNFPA will continue to provide technical, financial and logistical support to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to improve access to quality sexual and reproductive health services in the country as part of the quest for Universal Health Care.” She added, “I strongly believe that the King Harman maternal and Child Hospital will contribute significantly to improving maternal, newborn and child health outcomes in Sierra Leone.”
Work on King Harman Maternal and Child Hospital is now complete with new consulting rooms, emergency, labour and delivery, postnatal, and surgical wards, and a special baby care unit. Surgical procedures including caesarian sections will take place in the new operating theatre, which is expected to support pregnant women in the hospital’s catchment area and beyond.
UNFPA, with the support of DFID, procured and delivered equipment and supplies including maternity ward and delivery beds, ultrasound machines, and theatre equipment, to ensure good quality maternal, neonatal and child health services.