Locals in Gbarpolu County Applaud Rehabilitation of Mano River Bridge

Gbarpolu County – Locals of Kongba Administrative District in Gbarpolu County say they are please with the rehabilitation of the Mano River Bridge which connects their community with other major towns including  Lofa County .

The bridge also connects Liberia with Sierra Leone

Before the rehabilitation of the bridge, travelers faced difficulties, with some commuters using a longer route by travelling through Grand Cape Mount County to avoid the damaged bridge.

Marry Kollie, a trained traditional midwife, said she was happy that the bridge has been fixed.

“At least our bridge is okay now,” Mary said. “Our lawmaker brought some people they put real iron over it”.

She’s expressed relief that the rehabilitated bridge has reduced drivers’ fear of plying the road.

“Our drivers, including NGOs can now move on that iron easy, no more worries, that life threatening bridge is no more.”

Commissioner Richard Fallajuah of Kongba Administrative District said the bridge was reconditioned by Hon. Gertrude T. Larmin, Representative of District #3, Gbarpolu County.

“I have spent almost a week here and monitored the work done on this bridge,” he said, describing the work carried out as “Timely for the huge demand for the movement of people in and out of the district at this critical time.” He stressed that the bridge will allow people commute during the impending 2017 elections process.

He then encouraged locals to take ownership by protecting it.

“This bridge must always be protected by us through brushing around it and also this road. These irons and metals used here must not be removed by bad people for their self gains,” he stressed.

Also, Mr. Varney Gballay, Clan Chief of Jarwajah Clan, said he was happy to see the bridge upgraded again.

“Our drivers will not put us down on that bridge no more,” he said with excitement. “She (Representative Larmin) has finally heard our cries”.

For her part, Hon. Larmin, who also served tGbarpolu County as Superintendent, said although the bridge was reconditioned after the civil war, it later deteriorated.

“That bridge was fixed (rehabilitated) by Hon.  Armah Jallah, but he used planks at that time and it was good because the people appreciated it,” she said.

The Gbarpolu County lawmaker disclosed that the bridge initiative is part of her regular developmental agenda for the county.

“Every year the citizens of Kongba will cry, will cry about that bridge and asked me to help do something about that bridge. One day I was going to Kongba, my car could not pass over that bridge so I decided to fix it (the bridge) not using plank again but metal and I have done it for them”.

She said resources used on the project were from her salary which cost her over US$22,000.00, adding that the project was done this Month – February 2017.

The bridge, made of steel, was first constructed by Universal Logging Company (ULC) in 1984.

Report By: Henry Gboluma, Gbarpolu County





Health Worker Wants Support for Construction of Maternal Waiting Home in Rivercess


CHARLIE TOWN, River Cess County –The Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the Charlie Town Clinic has called on stakeholders in Rivercess County to support the construction of maternal waiting home at the facility.


Maternal waiting homes (MWHs) are constructed near government health facilities to accommodate pregnant women who are in their last month, but live more than an hour of walking distance away from the health facility.


According to the Ministry of Health policy, one must be at most an hour away from a facility to have access to health delivery system. But unfortunately, the government is unable to reach that standard.


In August 2016, an official of the county health team told reporters that 90% of MWHs in the county are not in used.


Recently, a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a maternal waiting home at the Charlie Town Cilnic was held in Timbo Health District, and clinic’s OIC, Helen Kermu said when the MWH is completed it will help improve maternal health in the area.


“I can’t say this will stop maternal death, but at least it will reduce it,” Kermu said. “There are some of our pregnant women living far from the facility, but with this home, we can monitor them.”


According to her, communities are providing “low cost” and “local materials” for the project.


“Each of the 27 communities is contributing 40 sticks with US$10.00 for the project,” Helen disclosed, “For other materials like zincs and cement, we are calling on all stakeholders to contribute [those] to the project.”


While speaking during the ground breaking ceremony, Mr.Matthew Walley, a resident of the community donated LRD$ 5000 as his contribution.


Mr. Walley, however, called on the public to join hands with the OIC and her staffs to ensure that the project is completed.


Report from the county health team says there are five maternal deaths this 2016, although constraints associated to reporting about the situation may be lead to inaccurate data.


The reproductive health supervisor of the county health team Madam Farzee Johnson says maternal waiting homes are crucial to maternal health.


“It is important to have maternal waiting homes at every facility,” Johnson said. “If these women were at a maternal home, what happened to them would not have happened.”

Report By: Eric Opa Doue

Health Workers Reports Herald Health Care Service Progress in Gbarpolu County

Gbarpolu County – It was an interesting gathering for locals and health workers at the only public clinic in Gbarngay Town, Gbarpolu County.

The Gbarngay Town clinic in Bokomu district delivers health services to over 12,300 catchment population, but on this occasion, it hosted the county’s quarterly health review meeting.

The event reviewed health care activities of the county between July and September 2016, and was conducted by the Gbarpolu County Health System on December 17.

Over 35 health workers, partners and local authorities attended the meeting.

The participants included representatives of health facilities, the county health team, five district health officers, five surveillance officers, partners and local authorities of Bokomu district.

“This meeting is all about bringing our health facility staffs together, especially our OICs because we want to see what they have done in their facility for the period,” said County Health Officer (CHO), Dr. Anthony Tucker.

Dr. Tucker said the activity was part of the County health team’s delivery system which help all parties understand the current state of health programs, identify gaps, share success stories from clinicians and development strategies to improve the service delivery system.

Following the overview, clinicians or OICs presented on behalf of their individual health facility. In all their presentations, the OICs highlighted success stories, challenges and recommendations.

The OIC of Gbarngay Clinic, Joshua Toweh, said community dwellers usually help them clean around the health facility and also they attend all meetings meant to create and promote healthy life messages to the community.

Conducted by certified midwives, vaccinators and OICs, the outreach basically helps increase the health services delivery by promoting vaccination campaigns, health messages and also take health services to the door steps of locals in hard-to-reach areas in the county.

From all the 15 health facilities presentations, 126 outreaches were conducted which help increased the county health team’s target. The immunization report showed that 798 to 929 children under the age one were vaccinated during the quarter.

Good Signal for Maternal Health

Birth delivery target was never met, according to the data management stats presented by Clarence Kollie, but the good news according to Kollie, there was no death during the period. Kollie projected that 531 was set as target, but 403 were achieved.

This means, from July to September this year, 403 pregnant women gave birth successfully at health facilities in Gbarpolu County, something he described as a “good sign for maternal health of women in Gbarpolu”.

Constraints Linger

For the constraints, some OICs complained about the lack of cell phone network in their area of assignment.

Massa Massaquoi, OIC of Kungbor Clinic said “Lack of network is our usual major problem”.  According to the clinician, as the result of this specimens that are collected cannot be delivered some time.

Nearly all the OICs expressed concerns over the continual delay of logistical supplies for the holding of outreach programs in the county.

“I did not receive gasoline for outreach so I was able to do seven outreaches at my own expenses,” complained Anthony Tamba, OIC of Kondensu Clinic in Belle district.

Massaquoi also suggested: “I think the number of outreach activities should be increased from the basis of what we have achieved this quarter”.

Nearly all the clinicians recommended the timely supply of medical and non-medical materials to enable them carry out effective and efficient work at their various facilities.

In response to the clinicians’ presentations, the CHO of Gbarpolu said the meeting prioritizes “Knowing the status of health services in the county to ensure urgent intervention for people in the county”.

Dr. Tucker thanked the health workers and encouraged them to keep providing health services.  He urged the logistical and pharmacy departments of the county health team to respond timely to the requisitions from district officers and OICs.

Communities Excited by Meeting’s Outcome

Community members have hailed the meeting and termed it as the county health team’s surprise Christmas gift.

Peter Sumo, a resident of the Gbarngay Town said: “This is the first time to see our big doctors them (doctors) come to this clinic”. Sumo believes the visit of the health workers will help the staff at the clinic improve services rendered to them.

Mr. Sumo noted: “I think this kind of meeting will make us too, as citizens, know our rights and wrongs and even our health workers too”.

Also, Yassah Tokpa, a female resident of the Gbarngay catchment communities, said the county health team meeting at their clinic serves as a motivation for the community to take ownership of the clinic and seek medical advice always.

“This tell us that our health workers here are working good (well), and we need to be respecting them and be coming to this clinic when we are sick for medicine,” Yassah said.

Many residents are happy with the decentralized health implementation activities in the county.

Otis Tokpa, a motorcyclist from Gbalakpalamu town, who also attended the meeting, said the meeting was fruitful giving that clinicians were able to voice out their concerns.

He said the event placed the county health authority under pressure to respond timely to some of the challenges.

“This will help all of us,” Tokpa said, continuing, “This health issue is everybody business”.

The next health quarterly review meeting will be hosted by Yangayah health facility located in Gbarma health district.

Editor’s Note: This story was previously published by FrontPage Africa Newspaper in collaboration with Local Voices Liberia, a network of Liberian reporters in the 15 counties working to report under-reported stories in their respective counties.

Reporting by: Henry Gboluma, Gbarpolu County

Gbarpolu County Validates Rapid Response Health Team

Gbarpolu County – The health team of Gbarpolu County with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has validated its county and district rapid response teams or RRTs.

Currently, there are 20 trained members of the rapid response team at the county level with the county health officer serving as team leader. Additionally, 7 persons make up the district level RRT headed by the district health officer.

These teams are obligated to provide immediate response in case of any outbreak.

The validation exercise took place during the IOM epidemic preparedness and response (EPR) plan review meeting held in Bopolu City. IOM is expected to close its project in the county on December 30, 2016.

“It is sad to tell you that with all of these activities and time spent together, we (IOM) are leaving this project with you people (CHT) to continue,” Sahr Kamara said, while hailing the community and the county health team’s surveillance department for the cordial working relationship during the period.

He said such project and NGO activities are time bond unlike government’s activities.

Kamara used the meeting to ask the people of the county to always report to local and health workers signs and symptoms of priority deceases like diarrhea, pneumonia and situation like cluster death.

“These activities were all about creating healthy environment,” added Care Giver Liberia, executive director, George Scott. Scott thanked the district surveillance and health officers for the smooth working environment created for IOM during their stay in the county.

Mr. Scott said it was from the community and local authorities’ support that kept the IOM in the county up to present.

County health officer, Dr. Anthony Tucker told the participants that the Epidemic Preparedness and Response (EPR) plan will help direct their activity in case of outbreak.

“This is our guiding principle; we asked you to hold us by it,” Dr. Tucker stressed.

He appreciated the work of IOM in the county and assured that the county health team will maintain the gains and work the organization achieved in the county. He also encouraged county and district level RRTs to be vigilant in delivering health service.

For his part, the Mayor of Bopolu City, Hon. Lasana Sirleaf emphasized that the “Time has reached in Liberia that Liberians shall work for themselves”.

Mayor Sirleaf also recalled some of the work of IOM and how the international agency thrived in building the capacity of health workers in the county.

“I got to know about this group (IOM) the time they conducted more than three weeks training for health workers at the city hall,” Mayor Sirleaf said.

He suggested: “When people are trained and it takes long time [and there’s] no refresher, they will not response 100%. I request IOM and other partners not to forget about us (Gbarpolu health Team).”

IOM joined the County Health Team to provide some technical, logistical and capacity building support aimed at building a resilient health system in Gbarpolu County.

According to IOM’s surveillance officer in the county, the teams supported the CHT to carry out evaluation, effectively led epidemic response, and strengthen community engagements for outbreak response plans.

Since December 2015, IOM has provided training for health workers in integrated disease surveillance response, case management, ambulance crew, referral pathway and RRT revision.

Kamara’s report shows several workshops were conducted for community leaders while training aimed at testing the ability of health workers as to whether they are prepare to deal with outbreak.

For the past 11 months, the team reached 947 people, of this number, 293 were females while 647 were males.

Geographical analysis of gender disparity of people reached during IOM’s operations in the county shows that 46% of the population that directly benefited from these health activities were females while males is 54%.

Report by: Henry Gboluma








































Misconceptions Impedes Family Planning Services in Margibi County

Kakata, Margibi County – Misconceptions have engulfed the service of family planning in Margibi County, thereby impeding access to contraceptives or birth control in the county.

Locals in the county say this is happening due to what they consider as entrenched traditional beliefs and other fallacies about the use of contraceptives.

Assessments conducted at three of the major health facilities in Cinta Township, Kakata City and Gibi district have established that many rural dwellers especially women have refused to access the service for many reasons.

“Tradition is still a problem here,” explains Thomas Duncan, officer in charge (OIC) of Cinta clinic. “The people hold on to tradition even when it comes to their health. This is one of the reasons causing a very high rate of teenage pregnancy.”

Duncan said some of the misconceptions include speculations that contraceptive causes cancer, especially the ‘implant’ otherwise known as ‘five-years’, that there’s high risk of giving them infections, and also the propensity of causing infertility among users that have not conceived before.

Meanwhile, Weedor Siazay, a registered midwife at the Wohn clinic in Gibi district said the use of family planning among women and girls in the area are rare.

She said many believe that children are gifts from God and using any means to prevent pregnancy was not necessary for them.

Siazay disclosed that some of the women who show up for the service has to do it confidentially without letting their husbands know in order to avoid embarrassment.

“Can you imagine in this remote area some of the men are married to two-three wives and each of them have more than four children but they still refusing for their wives to come for family planning” She lamented.

The OIC at the Kakata health center said a good number of adolescent girls and women are showing up and making use of the service. But he noted that there’s high number of infection (STIs) cases being diagnose amongst users as they usually blamed the risk of getting infections to the use of family planning.

Jimmy Vesselle said the biggest misconception amongst users is that they assume that the use of contraceptive is only to prevent pregnancy but they disregard the risk involved in having sex without condom, which he said is one of the methods of family planning.

“The use of condom is the safest method of family planning, because it prevents both pregnancy and STIs, even if you are [a] woman using family planning contraceptive, it is advisable to also use condom,” Vesselle said.

“Access to family planning can also allow the man or the woman to better plan by spacing their children and to be able to better plan how to manage the economic needs of the family”.

Report By: Emmanuel Degleh, Margibi County

A network of Liberian journalists