Women have also been threatened by the near collapse of the fragile health infrastructure: medical facilities are overwhelmed and under-resourced, many private hospitals are closed and public hospitals are no longer dealing with non-Ebola cases. Consequently, there is little in the way of healthcare provision for more common conditions such as malaria or typhoid.
Sierra Leone has one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates: 890 of every 100,000 women die from pregnancy-related causes. Thanks to the national free healthcare initiative (for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five), we had made some strides in getting pregnant women to move away from using traditional birth attendants.
Sadly, there is now a huge decrease in the numbers of women going to clinics for antenatal care and deliveries. Statistics are hard to come by, due to limitations on movement, but there is a real risk that women who are too afraid to seek medical care are instead dying at home from complications in childbirth. Meanwhile, access to family planning services is limited. This means that the meagre gains are being further eroded."