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Cymraeg

Saving lives in Sierra Leone

06 February 2012

Sierra Leone 1 webDr Alison Weightman, Cardiff University link partner, with midwife Emeline Kalokoh at the educational workshop

A partnership between Cardiff and Sierra Leone Universities has helped save the lives of thousands of women and babies on maternity wards in the West African country.

Dr Alison Weightman, from the University’s Information Services Directorate, works with colleagues at the University of Sierra Leone on projects covered within the Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions, including a DeIPHE (Development Partnerships in Higher Education) funded community health project as well as strengthening library and IT links.

Dr Weightman also works with neo-natal nurse Angela Gorman, founder of the charity Life for African Mothers, which delivers much needed drugs used to treat sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest maternal killers: eclampsia and excessive bleeding following birth.

The charity recently led a team of volunteers from the two countries to provide a Wales for Africa funded workshop for midwives and other medical staff to share clinical skills, helping to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity.

After a swearing in ceremony of medical, nursing and pharmaceutical students at the University Campus in Kossoh Town, the team began the three-day workshop, where they used a birthing and hemorrhage simulator to demonstrate how to manage major complications in birth, and provided health promotion leaflets to be displayed in clinics.

Sierra Leone 2 webTrainers, trainees and course organisers at the midwifery workshop, including Nance M'jamtu-Sie, University of Sierra Leone link partner and Angela Gorman, founder of LFAM (first and second from right, middle row)

The UK team also transported a range of books donated by Cardiff University to the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) library in Freetown, as well as a £1,075 donation to the Educational Awards in Sierra Leone (EASL) to provide grants for students who may not otherwise be able to attend secondary school.

Dr Alison Weightman said: "I would like to thank Angela and the clinical team for preparing and delivering an excellent workshop, and being such good and supportive company throughout the week. Thanks must also go to our link partner Nance M’jamtu-Sie and colleagues in Sierra Leone, for an enduring and valuable 12-year old partnership."

Sierra Leone 3 webThree patients celebrating after receiving treatment at Aberdeen Women's Centre

Angela founded Life for African Mothers in 2005 after deciding to tackle the appalling rates of maternal mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since then she has been making trips to nine different African countries, delivering vital drugs to pregnant women all over the continent.

During the past few years, she has supplied hospitals and clinics with enough Misoprostol – the most effective anti-hemorrhaging drug on the market – to save thousands of lives.

Her latest donation cost less than £700 and will help save the lives of 1,300 women.

She said: "More women die of child birth in Sierra Leone than almost any other country on the planet.

"We’re bringing the gift of life to these women, and it costs just 45p per treatment. It’s now cheaper to save a life than to buy a 1st class postage stamp."

The team - which also included Cardiff & Vale Health Board midwives Sarah Winder and Claire Bertorelli, consultant obstetrician Peter Lindsay and LFAM Chair, Matthew Price - would like to acknowledge the help given by:

  • Cardiff University, particularly all in Information Services and Janet Peters, Librarian, for supporting the link partnership by enabling link-partner time and resource-support, including the donation of books and the EASL charity
  • The Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa health links programme
  • The Good Gifts Catalogue
  • Laerdal for donating the MamaNatalie birth simulator
  • Liverpool School of Tropical Health for sharing their learning resources and the information and support which made up the workbooks
  • Cardiff & Vale University Health Board for the support given to the clinical staff involved
  • To all who donated baby clothes for Lumley Hospital: the staff of the Welsh Government, the WI and the many women’s groups in and around Cardiff who have given blankets, hats and more.

Related links

Life for African Mothers