Sierra Leone used to be the worst place in the world to give birth. On 28 April last year, the government of Sierra Leone took a huge step in the fight to reduce maternal and child deaths by making health care free for pregnant and lactating mothers and children under the age of five.
By removing health “user fees” up to 460,000 women and 1 million children each year will now benefit from free care. Progress since free health care was introduced has meant that:
- The number of women giving birth in hospitals and the number of children being treated for malaria have both tripled;
- The fatality rate for malaria in hospitals has been reduced dramatically, by approximately 90%;
- The number of children dying in the capital’s children’s hospital has halved;
- Free mosquito nets have been distributed country-wide, to help prevent malaria, saving the lives of nearly 4500 children.
Credit: Aubrey Wade/Oxfam