Sierra Leone: report shows childbirth kills one in eight women

One out of every eight pregnant women in Sierra Leone risks death during the pregnancy or at childbirth, says a new report from Amnesty International. In the Western World, this percentage is reduced to in every 4,500 women.

“The problem of the high mortality rate among pregnant women is always more concentrated in rural areas, especially those not located along the main roads" Xaverian missionary Father Gerard Caglioni told Fides.

“There are no means for pregnant women to reach health centres - which in any case , which are very poorly equipped."

He explained: "The women are left in complete isolation during the rainy season. This is sadly because the private businesses are not interested in starting a transport system to link the most isolated areas. As for the State, they do not have the money to improve the highways system.”

“These statistics show that the death by childbirth is a humanitarian emergency in Sierra Leone,” said Irene Kran, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “Women and children die by the thousands because they are denied the right to life and health, in spite of the promise made on the part of the government to provide free sanitary assistance for all pregnant women.”

According to Fr Gerardo, it is not only an organizational or economic problem, but there is a need to reflect on the dignity and rights of women in a society that is strongly marked by civil war.

The missionary said: “I think the major problem is a moral one: the people, especially the younger generations, have abandoned traditional African values, which were in someways a rampart against sexual promiscuity, to adopt an ambiguous value system imported from the West, especially through films and television series, where sexuality is flaunted and unrestrained and the woman is presented as an object.

"In a country like Sierra Leone, thanks to satellite television and videos, these audiovisual productions are now seen by a large portion of the population, even in rural areas. Thus, we see the number of cases of pregnancy among the youth, also effected by the phenomenon of prostitution, which increased during the civil war and continues in post-war Sierra Leone.”

Source: Fides

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