[Photo - Fatmata, Kofi & baby Alhassan]Fatmata [Maronka teacher] & Mani Abu [Rolal teacher] had their first son and Mrs & Mr John O'Niel [Lumley teacher] had their 2nd daughter this week. Both were safely delivered in the Lumley health centre [very very scary place!] by C-section. I could not help but compare and contrast with the excellent facilities and care I experienced at the hands of the NHS.
All the women in the Lumley Health Centre are dealt with in the same department: potential as well as new mothers; those in labour with those recovering from miscarriages and still births. 5 women in one of the tiny women's rooms with sideways walking leg space only between beds; no sign of any mosquito nets despite the obvious presence of a strong and healthy mosquito population and not a nurse or midwife in sight. I walked in off the streets straight into the tiny ward un-intercepted and unchecked, making my way down the dark corridor and through another grimy gloomy ward - there is no more guaranteed electricity in the hospital than anywhere else in Freetown. I did not see the operating theatre but the imagination runs riot bearing in mind the squalor and filth of the rest of the centre. And for all of this there are heavy fees to be paid. There is no free health care in Sierra Leone. There is an extraordinary related statistic: One in six Sierra Leonean women can expect to die in pregnancy, child birth or of post-natal complications.
However, both these mothers and both babies are in good health and progressing well. It is to be noted that, on a Sierra Leonean scale, these are the very lucky ones!
We wish them all the very best and send our congratulations to both families!