Hawa's Hope First Post-Pandemic Trip March/April 2023
Small Team – Joanie Seacrist, CNM, Janel Crawford, OB/GYN
Because this was Janel’s first time to Sierra Leone, we also spent some time seeing this amazing country and all the beauty it has to offer. When we consider the work being done in Sierra Leone to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, we spent time visiting both health care facilities and remote locations. One of the contributing factors in Sierra Leone is access to care.
In the last 5 years the country has made roadwork a huge priority so it is much easier to get around the country, and electricity is more reliable that it has been in years. Increasing their midwife force is also a priority for the government and we are seeing more and more skilled nurses and midwives throughout the county. We are excited to see so many improvements in infrastructure and believe that these improvements are making a difference.
First project after arriving was cutting foam for out suturing models.Friends at home had helped us sew the “skins” but we needed to get them cut and stuffed,so that students can use them as we teach suturing skills; an important skill to minimize post-partum hemorrhage from a laceration.
Our first even was at the Makeni School of Midwifery where we had a warm welcome, despite our years of not being able to come due to Covid19. This group was mostly students in their final year. Many skills were new to them, and they were attentive, interactive, and motivated. We always start with a pretest to assess their knowledge prior to our training, and we spent two days with them, lecturing and doing hand on skill reinforcement.
After the training in Makeni, we visited the Bo School of midwifery, another training site we will include next trip. All the midwifery schools have well equipped skills labs, and we will use them in our simulations in the future.
It is hard to appreciate “lack of access” without experiencing it. We traveled on dirt roads, via dug out canoes and did some walking to see what women in those remote villages experience when making their way to give birth placed with skilled attendants.
We visited one of the governments CMONC – Comprehensive Manternal Obstetric and Newborn Care Hospitals in Mattru Jong. Joanie has visited this hospital for years and despite its “low tech” appearance it has a blood bank, physicians, midwives, and nursing staff. There is a operating theater and a stocked pharmacy. These are all critical components to saving a mothers life. Thanks to the donations we received prior to our trip, we were able to give them a suture donation.
Freetown Training included two more groups, all practicing midwifes, some only in practice for just one year.Many of them had seen poor outcomes and were very motivated to learn ways to make a difference. They were especially motivated to learn suturing skills.Overall we trained about 140 midwives this year.