At Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, Georgina is just one of many women suffering. In beds all around her, women are crying in pain from pregnancy-related causes. Georgina has gone into shock from sepsis—caused by a botched, unsafe abortion. Nurses try to help her but the hospital has no drugs to treat sepsis. Georgina dies seven days later.
Despite improvements in the last several years, Sierra Leone’s maternal mortality ratio is very high at 857 per 100,000 live births—much higher than the average for sub-Saharan Africa and one of the worst in the world.
Abortion is legally restricted and unsafe abortion is common in Sierra Leone, particularly in rural areas, and it accounts for 9 percent of maternal deaths. There is a great need for reproductive health information, family planning and safe abortion and postabortion care: 90 percent of 18-year-old women are already married and the contraceptive prevalence rate is just 8 percent.
Ipas Sierra Leone has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and other key government and nongovernmental actors to identify solutions to these problems.