PHOTOS: PIH Celebrates Groundbreaking for Maternal Center of Excellence in Sierra Leone
Partners In Health, government leaders lay first bricks for state-of-the-art teaching hospital designed to provide a new level of care for Sierra Leonean women and families
Posted on May 7, 2021
Partners In Health’s mission to radically reduce global maternal mortality has entered a new chapter with the groundbreaking of the Maternal Center of Excellence (MCOE)—a state-of-the-art teaching hospital in Kono, Sierra Leone, that will not only provide a new level of health care to Sierra Leonean women and families, but also set new standards for what’s possible in women and children’s health around the world.
Leaders of PIH and the governments of Kono District and Sierra Leone gathered April 23 on the facility’s future grounds to usher in and celebrate the MCOE’s construction phase, after nearly four years of planning the facility.
Speakers included PIH Co-founder and Chief Strategist Dr. Paul Farmer and Sierra Leone Minister of Health Dr. Austin Demby, who shared a personal connection to the project.
“My daughters helped fundraise for the MCOE, collecting a little bit of money out in their neighborhood,” he said. “I can’t wait to come home and tell them their work is helping build a 166-bed hospital, and that the people of Kono and of Sierra Leone say thank you.”
Attendees at the groundbreaking—an occasion years in the making—celebrated much more than a building, as the MCOE represents overdue progress toward feminist health care in Kono, across Sierra Leone, and globally. Here are some of our favorite photos from the event.
With the safety of travel still in question amid COVID-19, PIH and supporters of the Maternal Center of Excellence gathered for a virtual groundbreaking ceremony, hosted on YouTube by longtime project partners John Green, Sarah Green (not shown in screenshot), and Hank Green. PIH Sierra Leone leaders Isata Dumbuya, Jon Lascher, and Dr. Bailor Barrie told the Greens all about the event, and answered viewers’ questions about the MCOE. And with a cheers to the momentous milestone, the group reflected on all that’s left to accomplish in Sierra Leone.
“We started this project wo years ago talking about the importance of health care systems and how we often don’t think systematically when it comes to health care interventions, and that has resulted in lots of these vertical interventions that haven’t strengthened health systems in the long term,” John Green said. “This is an attempt to take a different way, to help fund a health care system in an ongoing way, and to see a stronger health care system in Kono. …If we can make the case in Kono, we can also make the case that we shouldn’t accept weak health systems anywhere in the world, and we don’t have to.”