A new Maternal Center of Excellence is being built In Koidu, capital of Kono District in eastern Sierra Leone – and about 60% of those wearing hard hats on site are women. The building will serve the Koidu government hospital next door. “It is for us, the women who will give birth here. That’s why we are putting in effort to build the hospital,” says Hawa Baryoh, 21, who used to sell corn on the street but now is helping to train other women on the site.The 166-bed facility, due to partly open by the end of next year, is funded through a public-private partnership by the international nonprofit Partners In Health and the Sierra Leone government. As news spread that women were treated well on the job site, more and more women came seeking employment. Isata Dumbuya, director of reproductive, maternal, neonatal and adolescent health at Partners In Health Sierra Leone, highlights the center’s future importance as a training ground. Sierra Leone has the lowest density of medical doctors in west Africa. The goals for the new center include a five-fold increase in family-planning visits, as well as a reduction in the rate of facility-based maternal deaths to less than 1%, and stillbirths to less than 2%.

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