A Maternal Survival Action Network for Sierra Leone

This case study outlines how Sierra Leone introduced a Maternal Survival Action Network to support the implementation of Maternal Death Reviews across the country. This is an updated version of a case study originally published in our April 2013 issue of the MDSR Action Network newsletter.

In Sierra Leone, implementation of Maternal Death Surveillance and Response (MDSR) has been revitalised since the onset of the Ebola outbreak.

Sierra Leone’s national MDSR framework previously focussed on facility-based MDRs. There is widespread agreement by experts and activists that the use of findings from MDRs for service delivery improvements in the current model of implementing MDRs could be significantly strengthened and efforts to re-establish facility-based MDRs on a regular basis is being re-established. A review of processes and challenges identified opportunities to strengthen MDRs and make better use findings at facility level. The intention is to strengthen the system by identifying context-specific barriers and enablers to the use of MDR findings for quality of care improvements.

In addition, in August 2015, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) launched the National Maternal Death Surveillance and Response Technical Guidelines (see here), broadening the focus and providing practical guidance to move from the current focus on maternal death reviews to surveillance and response. The national MDSR committee was inaugurated in February 2016 and an orientation meeting took place in the same month.

A Maternal Survival Action Network for Sierra Leone

Key champions on maternal and neonatal health in Sierra Leone established an Action Network that is hosted by the CARMMA Initiative under the Office of the First Lady, for which Evidence for Action provided backend coordination and technical support.

This network, championed by the First Lady herself, aims to act as a catalyst for facilitating change around releasing bottle necks in areas where inadequate progress on actions from MDR recommendations are being made. , Through convening influencers and opinion-makers, the Network aims to share national evidence, advocate for resource mobilisation and ensure other relevant high impact interventions from MDR recommendations are realised.

The network is planning its revitalisation since the Ebola outbreak by bringing together partners to identify areas of input and maximise synergies. The network will also engage non-state actors to raise profile of the need to prioritise action on MDSR recommendations and generate positive survival messaging and advocate for partners to take action on MDSR recommendations.

Like the Global Network, the Maternal Survival Action Network will showcase examples of learning and action and it will provide a forum within which national members can reflect upon these to share experiences and problem solve.

Membership and composition

Membership is by invitation and not representation, and includes group or individual with an interest in increasing maternal survival through quality of care improvement methods especially taking forward MDSR recommendations.

Maternal Survival Network

Members are invited based on their capacity as change agents, influencers and/or opinion leaders, and for their expertise and knowledge on specific issues central to implementing MDSR recommendations. Members are not only health practitioners and representatives from the MOHS, but also from civil society organisations, the media, and traditional and religious community leaders. These actors, particularly community leaders, play a crucial role in building and strengthening the health system.


This is an updated version of a case study originally published in our April 2013 issue of the MDSR Action Network newsletter. The update was co-ordinated by Evidence for action (E4A) and the Office of the First Lady on behalf of the Maternal Survival Action Network.