In Bong District #7, Women and Children “Dying Like Flies” Due to Lack of Health Facilities
GBONOKALAI TOWN, Bong County – Residents in Gbonokalai Town and its surroundings in Bong County District #7 say due the lack of health facilities in their area, people are “dying like flies” from curable diseases, especially pregnant women and children.
Owing to the alarming situation, the residents have made a renewed call on their lawmaker, Representative Joseph Papa Kolleh to make the clinic he built for them functional.
They are also calling on the government to buttress the effort of their lawmaker to staff, supply and turn the building into a clinic to save lives.
According to the residents, Rep. Kolleh, following his election, embarked on the construction of the clinic in fulfillment of his 2017 campaign promise, but since the building was complete and painted, it is yet to become operational. Currently, the building is covered by grass.
The residents said the failure of the clinic to become functional has dashed their hope of having a healthcare facility in their town as people continue to die of curable diseases.
Addressing a team of Journalists, Emmanuel T. Singbeh, the Town Chief of Gbonokalai said residents of the region have become vulnerable to illnesses due to the lack of a health facility.
He said if the lawmaker refuses to complete the project, he will rally his people not to participate in the upcoming presidential and legislative elections.
“We will mobilize our people not to take part in the upcoming October 10 general elections, most especially for the representative polls in order to draw the attention of our leaders to our situation,” Town Chief Singbeh warned.
“When the clinic is dedicated in our town and there is an emergency, we will get help as soon as possible,” he added.
Gbonokalai is situated between Bong and Gbarpolu Counties. Residents of the town walked about three to four hours to access the nearby health facility, while residents in Gbarpolu County walked five to six hours to seek medication in Bong which is their only alternative.
Town Chief Singbeh said they have lost several people including pregnant women and newborn babies while transporting them to the nearby health facility in hammocks due to the long distance.
Background of the Clinic project
In April 2016, Representative Joseph Papa-Kolleh broke ground for the construction of the Gbonokalai Clinic in Lower Dingmah Clan, Sanoyea District.
After the completion of the building, it was inspected and approved for use by the Liberia Medical and Dental Council.
Chief Singbeh said if the clinic is not dedicated, more people, especially women and children will lose their lives.
Also speaking, Madam Nyamah Tonkollie, the community women leader and Trained Traditional Midwife, explained that implementing the government’s policy that bans delivery at home is difficult, owing to the lack of any nearby medical facility.
“Last week one woman had to deliver on the road while carrying her to the nearby clinic in Sanoyea Town. You think if this clinic was finished and delegated this was going to happen?” she asked rhetorically.
“Every time a woman is in pain, I will have to carry them to Sanoyea to deliver [her] because the government says we should not conduct delivery at home.
Sometimes, when we are going, some of them can give birth on the road, and because we are all women, and we don’t want to be disgraced, we will take off our lappa and put it around her until we finish with everything. So, we are begging Papa Kolleh, the government and other NGOs to please help finish this clinic. We are tired of the shame”.
Our reporter who visited the area said when the Gbonokalai clinic is dedicated, it will be a great relief to residents of the town.
Lawmaker’s office acknowledges delay in clinic’s opening
Responding to the residents’ concerns and claims, Uriah G. Cooper, the administrative assistant in the office of Rep. Kolleh acknowledged that the lawmaker completed the construction of the building in 2018 but has not been dedicated.
Mr. Cooper attributed the delay in the dedication of the clinic to health workers’ unwillingness to work in the area.
He said all assessments by the Ministry of Health have been done and over US$2,000 worth of drugs are in safe keeping for the clinic’s opening.
Cooper did not state the main date for the opening of the clinic, but expressed hope that it would be open before or after the October 10 General elections in Liberia.
“The lawmaker hasn’t forgotten that clinic, but we are still on the job market looking for qualified workers who are willing to work in that place. As soon as that is done, we will have that place opened to the public,” he said.
By: Albert M. Fania, K-News’ Bong County Correspondent