Marie Stopes Country Director, Dr. Ufuoma Omo-Obi handing over keys to the boat to Health Minister, Dr. Alpha Wurie
In a bid to continue providing quality family planning services, Marie Stopes Sierra Leones yesterday re-launched its outreach boat services to be used by residents around Bonthe Island and it immediate environs.
With support from the British Department for International Development (DFID), the boat code named: 'Marie Tim Sierra Boat' will help in tackling sexual and reproductive health and family planning issues in that part of the country so as to ensure the reduction of infant and maternal mortality rates.
Speaking during the official unveiling at Sea Coach, Aberdeen, Country Director of Marie Stopes, Dr. Ufuoma Omo-Obi, said they were happy to restart their outreach boat services in Bonthe, which is one of the vulnerable districts, as a result of concerns expressed by its people.
He added that the outreach boat services touches on their ability to help in reversing the trend of maternal mortality rate in the country through the provision of family planning services.
"We believe that family planning will help women to have children by choice and not by chance. Our plan is to access hard to reach communities across the country. With the re-launch of this boat service, our clients and other residents can access our services without any hindrance," he said.
He stated that the first boat service was launched in 2012, but shut down in 2017 because of resources. Dr. Omo-Obi noted that with help and support from DFID, they were able to secure a brand new state-of-the-art boat for family planning services.
"Our outreach programme attempt to addressing issues of both access and demand by providing free health services for hard-to-reach population in collaboration with our host communities," he added.
Deputy Mayor of Bonthe Municipal Council, Mohamed Robinson said: "The boat service will reduce the infant mortality rate which has been on the increase in the district."
He described the intervention by Marie Stopes as timely as moving from one point to another has been a serious challenge for pregnant women, especially those coming from the Island.
He noted that school children will henceforth be guided on how to avoid unwanted pregnancies and instead seeks family planning service.
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Alpha Wurie, thanked Marie Stopes for their timely intervention to help reduce maternal mortality in the country.
He spoke about what the ministry has achieved in a bid to reduce maternal mortality in the country, citing the re-launch of the ambulance services with about seventy (70) currently on operations out of the 167 rehabilitated.