In-service capacity building of maternal, newborn and child health care providers in Sierra Leone

Photo Credit: Flickr/Abbie Trayler-Smith 2013 Sierra Leone

Introduction
CMNH has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) in Sierra Leone since 2009 to improve maternal and newborn health through capacity building of healthcare providers. We are now building on the success of this previous work by scaling-up training to improve the knowledge and skills of healthcare providers across the country. This programme will train 500 healthcare providers in 7 modules based on the Government of Sierra Leone Basic Package of Essential Health Services (BPEHS), and will include 100 training sites across all 14 districts of Sierra Leone. The aim is to further increase the numbers of healthcare providers who can deliver essential maternal, newborn and reproductive health services in Sierra Leone.

Brief background
Since the end of the civil war in 2002 there has been some improvements in maternal and newborn health outcomes in Sierra Leone. But despite a reduction in maternal mortality ratio (MMR), it remains unacceptably high: in 2014, 1100 mothers died for each 100,000 births in the country. Since the 2014/2015 Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic, the MMR ratio has increased further: in 2015, 1360 mothers died per 100,000 births. The EVD epidemic saw the loss of 221 health care providers and cessation of regular healthcare worker training programmes, which has impacted on the quality of care being provided. The President of Sierra Leone’s post Ebola recovery and Transition plan has the aim of saving 600 women’s lives in the next 18 months. To achieve this, healthcare providers need to be trained to deliver appropriate antenatal, delivery and postnatal care. Our programme aims to address this.

Activities and Outputs
Specific activities and achievements to date include:

  • Providing and evaluating training for 500 healthcare providers to improve maternal and newborn outcomes at the primary care level
    - 7 modules have been rolled out over a 6 month period with pre- and post-testing capturing the level of improvement. 
  • Updating resources required to sustain the in-service capacity building training approach
    - 200 Master trainers have been retrained
    - Equipment has been replaced in 100 training sites across the 14 districts
  • Introducing a system of district level mentorship by members of the District Health Management Teams, which will continue to support healthcare providers’ practice in high quality reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health following the completion of this programme.