The Sierra Leone Ministry of Health (MoHS), Options, and partners (UNICEF, Marie Stopes Sierra Leone and UNFPA) held a successful two-day ‘lessons learned and dissemination’ meeting on 9th and 10th May. Held in Bo, southern provincial headquarter town, and in Makeni - the northern provincial headquarter town the meeting has been the chance for participants to discuss lessons learned and the process of transition of the Improving Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health (IRMNH) Programme to the Saving Lives programme. Both projects are funded by DFID.
Participants were drawn from: UNICEF, Marie Stopes Sierra Leone, Options, Ministry of Health, District Medical Officers, District Health Management Team representatives, District Council representatives, Civil Society Organisations and the media.
The theme for the close out meeting was "Healthy mothers, babies and youth the future of Sierra Leone.”
Bockarie Sesay, Options Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor informed participants that the objectives of the meetings in the two districts were to:
- Inform DHMTs and other district level stakeholders about the end of the IRMNH programme as well as to what extent its interventions will continue.
- Outline which activities will continue under DFID funded Saving Lives Programme and which ones will be supported by other donors.
- Discuss how key achievements under the IRMNH Programme can be continued
- Discuss what lessons can be learned from the IRMNH programme which can inform future efforts to improve provision of and demand for IRMNH and youth friendly services.
Participants were informed about the goal of the IRMNH programme whose aim was to “enhance coverage, capacity and uptake of reproductive, maternal and newborn activities in the public and private sectors. The programme increased the utilization of quality family planning, reproductive, maternal and newborn health services with focus on young people in Sierra Leone.”
The Project started in 2012, with UNICEF and UNFPA taken the lead and later joined by Marie Stopes Sierra Leone as private partners in September 2013. Options performed the Partnership Management, Evaluation and Learning (PMEL) function from August 2013 to May 2017.
The IRMNH programme has helped to:
- Increase knowledge of integrated IRMNH services among women and young people in Sierra Leone.
- Increase availability and uptake of modern family planning commodities and STI services with a focus on young people.
- Increase uptake of ante-natal care (ANC), including malaria prevention, by pregnant women, with a focus on young women
- Increase uptake of facility based births attended by a skilled birth attendant (SBA).
- Increase uptake of post-natal care (PNC) services by women, with a focus on young people.
Dr. Nuzhat Rafigue, UNICEF Health Manager, praised Options for the leadership role played in coordinating partners for the successful outcomes of the IRMNCH project. She urged partners that will be working on the Saving Lives Project to look at the lessons learned from the IRMNH project and build on them to achieve the current DFID the Saving Lives Project.
Key contributions by participants on actions for Saving Lives and other future health programmes include the need to:
- Improve the capacity of MCH-Aides.
- Ensure district engagement on project exist strategy at the start of projects.
- Continue with the FIT assessment as a very important tool to inform actions that can transform the health sector in Sierra Leone.
- Increase community knowledge on STIs and HIV/AIDS as the rate of infection among young people is increasing.
- Improve on availability and qualified staff.
- Promote blood donation drive across the country as lack of blood in most of the health facility is a leading cause of maternal death in the country.
- Incorporate free STI treatment as part of the Free Health Care Package.
- Develop a standard national referral strategy that includes a feedback mechanism from referral hospitals to PHUs making referrals.
- Focus on menstrual hygiene as many teenagers are susceptible to infection because of poor menstrual hygiene practices.
One of the participants from the BO District Council making statement
It was made clear to participants that the end of the IRMNH programme represents the start of the DFID Saving Lives Project, which has already begun. Certain activities from the IRMCH programme will be continued on the DFID Saving Lives Project.
To read full presentation on Lesson Learned and Recommendations from the IRMNH programme put together by Options, UNFPA, UNICEF and Marie Stopes Sierra Leone Click here
To see posters that capture achievements of the IRMNH Project in Sierra Leone Click Here