SIERRA LEONE – The United Nations Population Fund- UNFPA has donated to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation medical equipment critical to supporting emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC service provision) and in the screening and management of cervical cancer.
The equipment donated includes cryotherapy apparatus, carbon dioxide gas cylinders, fetal dopplers, hemocoel, sterilizers, vaginal speculums- different types and sizes, forceps- different types and sizes, instrument trays, and gynecological models.
The agency in collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone has been providing maternal and newborn health services including Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care, family planning services for women and girls, and other sexual and reproductive health services.
The donation was made possible with funding from the People’s Republic of China under the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund (SSCAF), through which China in 2019, committed US$2 million to reduce maternal deaths and prevent and treat cervical cancer in Sierra Leone.
In 2020, UNFPA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation initiated the China South-South Cooperation project aimed at improving women’s health and reaching vulnerable and those at high risk of maternal mortality and cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is preventable and treatable if diagnosed early. In Sierra Leone, 512 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 372 die from the disease every year, with the country ranking 22 in the world with age-adjusted death rate of 22.47 per 100,000.
The support by UNFPA to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to establish cervical cancer screening and treatment services in public health facilities will make these services accessible to women and help prevent avoidable deaths from cervical cancer.
“The items we are donating are needed to look after women when they are pregnant and when giving birth and some to be used in training healthcare providers. In addition, some will be used for screening and treatment of cervical cancer”, Dr. Stephen Mupeta, UNFPA technical specialist explained.
Receiving the donation, Dr. Francis Moses, Reproductive Health and Family Planning Program Manager said, the equipment is lifesaving ones that they have been trying to obtain as a ministry.
UNFPA, with funding support from China, is supporting nine healthcare facilities with the establishment of cervical cancer screening and treatment services and in equipping Reproductive Health Centers to provide comprehensive reproductive health services.
The support to EmONC service provision will help reduce avoidable morbidity and mortality related to childbirth. It also will contribute to the reduction of the country’s maternal mortality ratio which is among the highest in the world at 717 per 100,000 live births.