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UNFPA Sierra Leone has hosted four international journalists from AFP and USA Today on field visit to post-Ebola Sierra Leone and Liberia, from 25-30 April 2016, under the Mano River Midwives Response Project, supported by the Governments of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Japan.

The unprecedented Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa in 2014 significantly impacted and weakened the health systems, particularly for maternal health services in both Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The journalists were on a five-day mission on key UNFPA Maternal Health and Family Planning interventions during and after the outbreak, which claimed thousands of lives.

While in Sierra Leone, the Senior Management Team and Programme/Cluster Leads at the Country office in Freetown briefed them on the Fund’s contribution to the overall Ebola Response, including Contact-tracing, Maternal Health and Family Planning, and Reproductive Rights, especially of young people.

The team visited the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH), Freetown, popularly known as ‘Cottage’, where they interviewed the Medical Superintendent, Dr A P Koroma and were taken on a conducted tour of the maternity wards and antenatal facilities.

The journalists travelled to Makeni on 25 April, and visited the UNFPA-supported School of Midwifery (SOMM), Masuba, where they interviewed and interacted with a cross section of the administrative staff, tutors and student midwives before heading for Kailahun, the Ebola entry point into Sierra Leone on 26 April.

At the Kailahun Government Hospital, the team interviewed the Medical Superintendent, Samuel PE Massaquoi and four lactating mother, three of who delivered there during the outbreak, at a time when others were running away from public health facilities in fear of contracting the disease. The other, Neima Morie, was an Ebola survivor from Kula.

The team, proceeded to Liberia on 27 April where they were received by the UNFPA Liberia Country Representative, Dr. Oluremi Sogunro. Woseh Gobeh, National Reproductive Health Officer briefed them on Family Planning and Reproductive Health situation in Liberia, especially as they impact on women and young people.

They visited the Mendikorma Community Health Centre, Foya District, where they interviewed Abednego B Flingai and Annie Kpehe, Officer-in-Charge and RM respectively and Star of Theresa Health Centre, West Point, where they were briefed by Maimah Smith, Nursing Administrator and interviewed two adolescent girls who delivered at the facility during the outbreak, including a physically challenged young mother.

 The four journalists were accompanied by Lothar Mikulla, Communications Specialist (Maternal Health), UNFPA Headquarters, New York; Habibatou Gologo, Regional Media Specialist, UNFPA West and Central Africa Regional Office, Senegal; Mustapha Sesay, Communications Officer, UNFPA Sierra Leone; and Calixte Hessou, Advocacy and Communications Officer, UNFPA Liberia.