New Mothers at a Maternity Clinic in Bo, Sierra Leone
In what I would consider to be a huge advancement in maternal health, the Sierra Leonean government has established a toll-free health hotline that will be in operation 24/7 for the public to call to register questions and observations on topics related to the free health care services recently provided by the government to children under five and pregnant and lactating women.
In 2009, Sierra Leone had the highest maternal mortality rates in the world according to the World Health Organization. This, however, is changing with the combined efforts from national and local governments as well as NGOs. With the implementation of free health services for pregnant women and children under five, becoming a mother no longer has to be a death sentence.
Although most Sierra Leoneans do not have access to television, they do, however, have access to the radio and cell phones. This new health hotline will provide a useful tool through which to answer community questions regarding the services provided for pregnant woman and children under 5 as well as serve as a monitoring tool for health workers. If health workers risk being reported to a hotline for poor quality service, then this might well prompt better quality service. What remains to be seen is how the hotline would follow-up on calls that register such complaints.
Although the achievements of this hotline remain to be seen, I can only image the potential for this service for pregnant women, especially in rural areas, to have their questions answered and to raise awareness for the programs offered by the government.
Do you know about initiatives like this in other countries? Let me know in the comments section below, I’d love to hear what has come from similar programs elsewhere!