First Feature; Head Nurse of Hamilton Village, Mrs. Margaret Pratt

Sierra Leone: Lactating Mothers Commend Euphoria

On Saturday 7th April 2012, more than 100 Sierra Leonean children under the age of five received clothes and shoes from the Euphoria Project Inc., in partnership with the Hamilton Community Health

Clinic which was aimed to complement the government's free health care scheme for pregnant women. The clothes were given to mothers who want to provide for their families but are financially in need

of assistance. Mothers were given an entire wardrobe including hats, socks, bibs and other accessories for their babies.

According to the Executive Director of the Euphoria Project Inc., Pauline Pamela Pratt, "many children do not have access to proper clothing and shoes to help keep their bodies and feet protected. Various forms of bacteria and viruses are more easily spread without proper clothing and children who have no choice but to walk barefoot suffer from all sorts of injuries and infections".

Pratt noted that the donated shoes and clothing can greatly improve the well-being and the quality of life of the children, in particular toddlers who are crawling or just learning to walk. All the donations came from new mothers who wanted to share their blessing as well as caring individuals who want to see children thrive; especially employees of the Housing Development Fund Inc. based in Connecticut, USA who pulled together to support this cause.

The Hamilton community is a Western area village in Sierra Leone with a rapidly increasing population with nearly 2,000 residents. The growth is expanding faster than resources and development for the

community to sustain itself. Many residents have no option but to visit nearby health posts in Ogoo Farm and other surroundings areas to anxiously seek medical attention for their sick children. However, the number of patients visiting the clinic increased shortly after it was revamped and staffed with sufficient health officers.

In 2008, only one-quarter of all births took place in a health facility in Sierra Leone. According to a Demographic and Health Survey, only 42 percent of births were delivered by a skilled provider. The lifetime risk of a woman dying from complications in pregnancy and childbirth is one in eight. (Historically, Sierra Leoneans average visit to a health facility is less than once a year) - attributable to the cost. In a country where cost is the largest barrier to access quality health care, the introduction of free services in 2010 for the most vulnerable group of people including; lactating mothers, pregnant women and children under five years old is a huge step towards reducing infant and maternal mortality rates.

The establishment of the Euphoria Project, Inc., in 2010 is aimed contributing to the goal of reducing maternal and infant mortality by providing health education and to increase access to health services

by partnering with local clinics to provide basic preventive health services to communities in need and focuses on the area of maternal and child health in addition to social services.