The maternal mortality rate mainly occurs due to complications during pregnancy, delivery and post-partum. Along with these, other factors such as poor and inadequate health service access for mothers also result in a high mortality rate—similarly, lack of facility for neonatal care results in the death of infants. In Sierra Leone, the maternal mortality rate is very high, as according to statistics, with every 10,000 childbirths, approximately 1,360 mother’s die. Globally, the mortality rate of neonates, children and infants under the age group of five is the highest in Sierra Leone as per 1,000 lives, 111 children die (Unicef, 2016). King Harman Road satellite hospital is a government-run hospital that would be required to develop its maternity ward and deploy efficient healthcare workers for reducing the infant and maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone.
1. What are the reasons that contribute towards the high infant and maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone?
2. What steps can be taken to reduce high infant and maternal mortality rates in Sierra Leone?
2.1 Factors causing infant and maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone
As per Marsh et al. (2021), per 1000 lives, the neonatal death rate was 31.1%, as estimated by the United Nations in 2020. It was due to sepsis, asphyxia, other infections and low birth weight. It was also identified that many stillbirths happen at home, especially in rural areas. Apart from neonatal death, the most common cause of death of children below the age of 5 was Malaria. It becomes essential to analyse the cause of death in the low and middle-income countries to reduce the premature mortality in such regions in Sierra Leone. Most of the deaths occur at home and not in facilities, which indicates the lack of proper infrastructure and hospitals in such areas.
As per Kanu, Tang and Liu (2014), Obstetric haemorrhage has been diagnosed as one of the leading causes of maternal mortality, causing 127000 maternal deaths annually. Moreover, eclampsia and pre-eclampsia are among the leading causes of maternal death in developing countries. In rural areas, there is a shortage of medical facilities to care for women during childbirth. Most well-equipped hospitals are located in urban areas. This means that rural women mostly rely on a Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) for childbirth. Most of them are semiskilled, and especially during complications, they do not have the necessary skill and equipment, which exposes the process to infections, which either results in abortion or death of the child. Furthermore, the outcome of pregnancy is affected due to sexually transmitted infections, which are passed on to the unborn child and newborn babies. As high as 24% of neonatal deaths in developing nations are due to preterm birth. The major reason behind this is the poorly organised health system with the lowest number of well-qualified health workers, poor supply chain functioning, and low-quality care. These contribute to the spread of diseases, ultimately causing high infant and maternal mortality rates in the country.
The methods and approaches that could be used to reduce the maternal mortality rate and the infant mortality rate has not been adequately dealt with in the current literature, making it difficult to ascertain the procedure that could be taken to reduce the mortality rate of mother and infants.
Secondary sources have been used for conducting the research: peer-reviewed journals, academic literature, and government published newspapers. This is the most convenient and reliable source of information since they are readily available. There are four types of research: exploratory, descriptive, analytical and predictive. The exploratory method has been used for conducting this research since it aims to explore the topic and understand the problem-focused. Furthermore, descriptive research focuses on the situation under study: high infant and maternal mortality rate (Kennedy, 2017).
Different approaches of research are used to understand and explore the underlying phenomena, and in this particular research, applied research has been used. Practical issues that affect an individual's daily lives are studied under applied research. Here the practical issue is the reason for the maternity and infant mortality rate in Sierra Leone. Through generalisation of idea concepts and theories related to the research will be explored.
Thematic analysis has been used to explore the topic and understand the concepts. The topic has been discussed in different themes, and individual analyses of the themes have been done to understand its relevancy.