Rural Health Care Initiative
  • Partnering with Sierra Leone to save lives

Our Work

RHCI works hand-­in­-hand with Sierra Leoneans in Tikonko Chiefdom to provide culturally-appropriate health care and improve the quality of life by increasing access to family focused health care. Utilizing measurable health outcomes, RHCI is developing a sustainable approach to reducing maternal and infant mortality, and addressing primary healthcare issues to improve the health of families and communities in rural Sierra Leone.

Background

Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, with one in 17 women dying related to pregnancy or childbirth. Rural communities such as Tikonko Chiefdom continue to struggle to keep mothers alive during childbirth and help children survive and develop normally. Access to adequate healthcare services and nutrition are critical to mother and child survival rates.

A mothers’ death continues the cycle of poverty and devastation where infants and children are more likely to die if their mothers die. Hemorrhage is the greatest cause of maternal mortality, in addition to infection, unsafe abortions, eclampsia/seizures and obstructed labor. Most mothers die of hemorrhage during childbirth simply because they cannot afford or do not have access to transportation to emergency obstetric care. Studies show that maternal deaths are greatly reduced through increased access to quality health care, emergency obstetric care and skilled birth attendants.

In Sierra Leone, similar to most developing countries, the lack of reliable transportation and limited number of paved roads continue to be a major barrier to accessing healthcare services. Many women die from birth complications simply because they have no means of transportation to reach a facility where they can receive emergency obstetrical care.

Program & Clinical Activites

Since our inception in 2011, Rural Health Care Initiative has affected the lives of thousands of people in the Tikonko Health Center catchment area of rural Sierra Leone in the following ways:

  • Support for the government-run Community Health Center: Donations of medical supplies, equipment, newborn kits and medications for the Tikonko Health Center. Installed Solar Suitcase for light at night and upgraded the facility with new beds, flooring and painting.
  • Training of 33 traditional birth attendants, in a one-month course, including “Helping Babies Breathe” program and “Essential Care for Every Baby,” in collaboration with Midwives on Missions of Service in 2015. A follow-up training in January 2017 was attended by 50 women. The Helping Babies Breathe program was taught to 28 women.
  • Agriculture/nutrition project – growing groundnuts on RHCI land in 2014 and 2015, with two crops harvested and used to improve nutrition for families. Cassavas and groundnuts were grown in 2016. Diversification and expansion of agriculture is planned, with the growing of a huge vegetable garden and planting of fruit trees in 2017.
  • Operating the weekly Outreach Motorbike clinic to four villages in the Tikonko Chiefdom in partnership with the Tikonko Community Health Center staff. This program began in October 2015. Over 3000 people have been treated at the outreach clinics, with a majority of them children with malaria.
  • Birth Waiting Home construction, started in May 2016 and is nearing completion in June 2017. RHCI is building a 24‐bed birth waiting home to serve the pregnant mothers within the area of the Tikonko Health Center catchment area. Birth Waiting Homes (BWH) are places of respite and waiting for mothers who live far away from a health care facility, providing spaces of community bonding, support and mother‐to‐ mother mentorship, particularly for first pregnancies, and a place to stay after giving birth before returning to their village. It is anticipated that 200-250 women will use the facility annually.
  • A Toyota Hilux truck was purchased by RHCI, funded by two generous donors. This vehicle is used for transportation for staff and volunteers and as an ambulance for critical patients to be transported from Tikonko to Bo.
As requested by the Tikonko Chiefdom leadership, RHCI is now working to strengthen the health clinics in the more distant villages of Kassama and Sebehun Tarbay, through donations of much needed medications and supplies.