'We can fix this, we don't need more research': The real opportunity to save mothers & babies in Sierra Leone

‘We can fix this, we don’t need more research’: The real opportunity to improve maternal health in Sierra Leone

Aminata Conteh-Biger

The Aminata Maternal Foundation has one key mission: to make giving birth safer for women living in Sierra Leone, one of the most dangerous places in the world to have a baby.

Founded by Aminata Conteh-Biger, the Australian based charity is changing lives by working with partners on the ground to improve outcomes in maternal health. It’s about providing resources to the people of Sierra Leone, so sustainable progress can be made.

“We focus on community, and providing the tools to the people of Sierra Leone,” Aminata said during a thought-provoking online conversation with Women’s Agenda.

“Because when it comes to crises like COVID and Ebola, the international aid always leaves and leaves the people with nothing.”

Conteh-Biger says there is a focus on improving the number of midwives working in Sierra Leone, and working to improve their training, resources and pay. Currently, she says midwives are paid a salary of around $2000 a year, and typically work so hard that they can deliver around ten babies overnight.

Chair of the Aminata Maternal Foundation, Professor Anthony Zwi said the organisation takes a two-pronged approach to improving outcomes for women in Sierra Leone.

“The strategy of the foundation is to make birth safer now, working with partners on the ground, but also about making birth safer in the future. It’s improving broader development, girls’ education, access to quality healthcare, health literacy, young women being able to access contraception,” Zwi said.

Aminata Conteh-Biger says there is so much the charity can do if they have the support of Australians. “This is the right for any human to be able to survive childbirth,” she said. “This is one thing that every woman and man should come and fight for this cause.”

“We can fix it, it’s preventable. We don’t need to talk about it or do research. It’s about women being able to safely deliver babies.”

Dr Nisha Khot, an obstetrician at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, said for those living in Australia, childbirth is overwhelmingly very safe. And the comparison to maternal death rates in Sierra Leone should give us pause for thought.

“We have actually managed to make childbirth so safe for women in Australia that you are so very unlikely to die from childbirth. You are very very unlikely to have a serious event that you would die from,” Dr Khot said.

“Saving a woman’s life in childbirth isn’t just about the woman. It’s about their family and their community.”

You can learn more about the Aminata Maternal Foundation here where you can support the foundation and make a real difference to the lives of new mothers.

Women’s Agenda is making a small donation to AMF for every new subscriber on Women’s Health News from now until the end of the year.

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