24/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 12:55

Pregnancy deaths ‘emergency’ in Sierra Leone

Category: Politics

Published: 22nd Sep 2009 07:38:00

A maternal deaths "emergency" is killing one in eight women during pregnancy or childbirth in Sierra Leone, a report has warned today.

Amnesty International has launched a campaign to address the issue, calling it a "human rights emergency".

The report has been launched to coincide with prime minister Gordon Brown’s expected announcement of new finance packages devoted to improving healthcare in the developing world at the United Nations in New York.

Amnesty’s report, Out of Reach: The Cost of Maternal Health in Sierra Leone, uses case studies of women in the country to highlight their plight for life-saving treatment.

Researchers say thousands of women bleed to death after giving birth, mainly in their homes, but some on their journeys as they desperately try to reach medical care. In Sierra Leone, less than half of deliveries are attended by a skilled birth attendant and less than one in five are carried out in health facilities.

Amnesty International’s secretary-general Irene Khan said: "These grim statistics reveal that maternal deaths are a human rights emergency in Sierra Leone.

"Women and girls are dying in their thousands because they are routinely denied their right to life and health, in spite of promises from the government to provide free healthcare to all pregnant women."

Amnesty says they hope Mr Brown will announce in his address to the UN General Assembly that Sierra Leone’s infant and maternal health issues need to be high on the list of priorities.

Ms Khan added: "Additional money is desperately needed in Sierra Leone but will not reach women and children in remote areas who are at greatest risk. The lives of women and girls will only be saved when the health system is properly managed and the government is held to account.

"Money alone will not solve the problem. In Sierra Leone severe discrimination and the low social status of women underlies the terrible tragedy of maternal deaths.

"This is a country where girls are forced into early marriage, excluded from schools and face sexual violence. Women’s health needs are given a low priority by their own families, community leaders and their government."

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Birmingham Wired, 2009. Pregnancy deaths ‘emergency’ in Sierra Leone [Online] (Updated 22nd Sep 2009)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/3886/Pregnancy-deaths-emergency-in-Sierra-Leone [Accessed 24th Apr 2014]

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