News / Africa

Sierra Leonean Women Face Hurdles in Access to Care

Pregnant women watch television as they wait to give birth in the pre-natal ward at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone (September 2010 file photo).
Pregnant women watch television as they wait to give birth in the pre-natal ward at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone (September 2010 file photo).
TEXT SIZE - +

Amnesty International says pregnant women in Sierra Leone are being denied medical care and forced to pay for medicines despite a nationwide free healthcare initiative launched last year.

In April 2010, Sierra Leone launched a $90 million free healthcare program that eliminates fees for pregnant and breastfeeding women at government-run health centers.  

Sierra Leone is one of the most dangerous places to give birth in the world. The government says the promise of free treatment has gotten record numbers of pregnant women into health centers for pre-natal visits and deliveries.

However, Amnesty International said Tuesday that health facilities are either running out of medicines or are forcing women to buy essential drugs that should be free and then turning away those who cannot pay.

Amnesty International's Health Policy Coordinator, Rajat Khosla, said corruption and poor monitoring are to blame.  

"Drugs and medical supplies are leaking out of the healthcare system and are rerouted as drugs for sale. And second [for] the procurement and management of drugs, the system that has been put in place, is complex and very poorly managed," said Khosla. "The dysfunctionality of the health system in many ways with regards to monitoring and accountability has created a permissive environment for bad practices and corruption. Even when they are detected, there is hardly any punishment meted out."

Amnesty says corruption and delays at the port in Freetown continue to interrupt the drug supply, while poor record keeping and inventory management in health centers make it difficult to track supplies and hold staff accountable.

Amnesty says women who are denied access to treatment have no way to complain.

Khosla said some women told Amnesty they were so frustrated that they will no longer go back to a health center, even if they experience complications during childbirth.

"Unless the government takes measures to strengthen the system, there is a risk of backsliding from the gains that have been made in the last year and a half with the free health care policy," said Khosla.

In July, Sierra Leonean president, Ernest Bai Koroma, called for a crackdown on criminality within the Free Health Care Initiative.

Amnesty says the government has taken certain corrective measures, including increasing health worker's salaries and providing them with training, but more work must be done to bolster accountability and improve healthcare, particularly in rural areas.


You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid