Sierra Leone is estimated to have a population of 5.9 million (estimate, 2010) with a population growth rate of 3.1%. Adolescents and youth constitute 55% and Women of childbearing age (15-49) constitute about 25 per cent of the total population of the country.
|Since the end of the decade long civil war in 2002, Sierra Leone has made significant strides in progressing towards the 2015 MDG targets. Considerable gains have been also made in sustaining political stability in the country with peaceful elections held in 2002, 2007 and 2012.|
Despite the substantial economic growth in recent years, Sierra Leone continues to experience some of the some of the worst health indicators in the world. The country has one of the highest Maternal and infant mortality rates in the world (857 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and 140 infant deaths per 1,000 live births) and teenage pregnancy stands at a staggering 34%. Access to family planning services is abysmally low and the national contraceptive prevalence rate in 2008 was 7%. Despite a low proportion of women using a modern method of contraception, 28% of women have an unmet need for family planning, with 24.5% of women either wanting to delay child bearing by two or more years, or 30.3% not wanting to have any more children (DHS 2008). Life expectancy at birth in the country is 49 years for females and 47 years for males.
The Government of Sierra Leone on its part placed significant weight on reproductive health, particularly on maternal health in the country's development agenda, when the President launched the five-year Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper called "Agenda for Change (2008-2012)," which gave priority to the reduction of maternal and child mortality.
|In light of the high rate of maternal and infant mortality rates, on 27 April 2010, the Government launched the Free Health Care Initiative (FHCI) that enabled pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five to access free-of-charge medical care and services The Initiative was, in a way, a grand sum of Sierra Leone's efforts, as it tried to address all dimensions related to reproductive health from quality.|