The Bonthe District Health Management Team in Mattru Jong has confirmed to this Press that it has recorded a total of eight [8] maternal death cases in the first quarter of 2016 [January – March], the worst to be seen in the past five years, even though health workers says the figure is being under reported.

Pregnant Girl

The district Medical Officer Dr. Ibrahim Kargbo Labour making a brief presentation on current health status in the district started off by saying that,

There are 55 Primary Health Care Units (PHUs), One Government Hospital located in Bonthe Sherbro Island, one Industrial Clinic in Moriba Town, one Mission Hospital, one Nursing School and one Maternal and Child Health Aide Training School in Mattru Jong.

He went on to say that there are four Doctors in Bonthe District, one Medical Superintendent at the government Hospital in Bonthe town, One Medical doctor In-Charge of the UBC Mattru Hospital and one Medical Officer In-Charge of the Sierra Rutile Clinic including himself.

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“Active case surveillance is on-going in the District. So far, we have five [ 5 ] confirmed cases of measles (2 at Mongerewa Jong and 3 at Torma in the Bum chiefdom) 50 contacts have been line listed” he said.

The district Medical boss also added that respiratory infections, diarrhea, malaria and malnutrition are the main causes of morbidity and mortality in the District.

There are 36 solar refrigerators in the PHUs across the district out of which, 30 are functional while 16 are faulty and completely out of use and therefore need replacement he said.

The district has 55 Supplementary Feeding Programmes (SFP), including 41 Out Patient Therapeutic Programmes.

The District has 39 HIV/AIDS Counseling and Testing sites, 37 PMTCT sites and 5 ART sites. 250 PLWAs are on ART: 17 in Bonthe Government Hospital, 95 in the UBC Mattru Hospital, 95 in Moriba Town CHC and 47 in Madina CHC

There are 4 LEP/TB Sites (Bonthe Government Hospital, UBC Mattru Hospital, Moriba Town CHC and Madina CHC) in the district. 194 TB Patients are on treatment. 17 Leprosy patients are also on treatment.

There are inadequate trained and qualified Health Personnel, saying out of 55 PHUs 19 are manned by one staff stressing access problems in these PHUs, ill- motivated staff as very key.

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Zainab Kamara, the district Health Sister one [1] attached to the Bonthe district Health Management Team said Hemorrhage, Obstructions, Unsafe abortions; Sepsis and Eclampsia [HOUSE] are some of the key factors propelling the high death rates among pregnant women in the district.

“Lack of utility vehicle for supervision, late response to emergencies by the DHMT due to ambulance and fuel constraints, poor services at the U B C Mission Hospital in Mattru Jong, the only referral facility apparently serving over 70% of the Bonthe District population, cannot be unconnected with the recent heightened maternal mortality among expectant mothers” Zainab Kamara contributed.

Two ambulances are currently packed at the Bonthe District Ebola Response Centre in Mattru Jong while pregnant women in distant chiefdoms languish to death yet, their cries are not heeded to. Meanwhile, prompt referrals to improved health care facilities still remain a major challenge across Bonthe District. According to the District Medical officer, he has strictly been ordered by authorities in Freetown not to use the two purported Ebola ambulances for any other health intervention except for Ebola.

“Most often, Pujehun Government hospital is preferred by residents in hard to reach chiefdoms like Bum, Kwamebai Krim and Sittia due to proximity, but more importantly, because of the improved health care services that are available at the government sickbay” Sister Zainab Kamara concluded.

This ugly situation coincided with the visit of the World Health Organisation [WHO] country director Dr. Anders Nordstrom to Bonthe District.

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Dr. Nordstrom who was saddened by the health status report presented by the District Medical Officer Dr. Ibrahim Kargbo Labour in a brief meeting on Tuesday 5th April, 2016, told health workers that Sierra Leone has the highest maternal and child mortality rate in the world. He furthered his statement by saying that the Organisation may not be able to address all the current health problems facing the district at a go but promised to give a helping hand in order to alleviate some of the acute health challenges in the district.

The Bonthe Base manager for World Vision international Umaru Dura Sesay said the Organisation through its health programmes had supported the DHMT with essential drugs and also fuel in order to aid coordination of health care activities and that they have also supported the training of Community Health Workers [CHW’s] who are charged with the responsibility of observing pregnant women in their localities and to make sure they go for antenatal and post natal services.