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Uncompleted Maternal Waiting Homes: A Challenge for Preganat Women in Rivercess County

Rivercess County – Almost 99% maternal waiting homes (MWH) in River Cess County are non-functional, health authorities in the county have confirmed. Health workers are also complaining about the lack of   functional maternal waiting homes in the county.

“The need for maternal waiting homes in River Cess County is paramount and needs serious consideration,” says Madam Farzee Johnson, reproductive health supervisor of the county health team.

Maternal waiting homes are constructed near government health facilities in the county to accommodate pregnant women who are in their third trimester and reside in communities more than an hour away from the health facility.

According to the policy of the Ministry of Health, a person seeking medical treatment must be one hour away from a facility in order to have access to health delivery system, but the Government of Liberia is yet to meet this standard in rural communities.

In 2010, the construction of maternal waiting homes was introduced by Africa Humanitarian Actions (AHA) to River Cess County Health System. The initiative was in an effort to curtail home delivery, which is a primary cause of maternal death in the county.

Report say none of these maternal waiting homes have been used for the intended purpose, and a Local Voices Liberia health Reporter in the county who conducted an investigation found that these facilities are not being used.

When contacted the reproductive health supervisor of River Cess county health team, Madam Farzee Johnson said nearly all of the maternal waiting homes in the county are non-functional, with the exception of a facility at the Dobor Community clinic in Central River Cess health district.

Johnson said other maternal waiting homes are yet to be constructed, adding that a five bed room MWH in Neezwein central “C” health district has no doors nor windows, while the construction of the waiting homes in Kaogbo Town, Goezon,  Dodein and Jo-River Health Districts are at a standstill

Locals provided low cost locally made materials for the construction of tmaternal homes in the various health districts, while zincs, nails and other materials are being procured by CHT.

Said Johnson: “Efforts are being made by the community through the Community Health Development Committees or CHDCs, but for now we do not have MWHs, I think when we have maternal waiting homes at our 19 facilities, maternal complication will be curtailed”.

The Officer-In-Charge of the Gbedia Clinic in Jo-River Health District, Mark Vakum, described the condition of the Maternal Waiting Home at his facility as deplorable.

“No one can use that building now because all of the walls are falling off,” Vakum said. “We (Community and Clinic Staff) have scheduled a general meeting to access the conditioning of this MWH”.

He continued: “Maternal waiting Home in Gbloseo is currently being used as dwelling for health workers”, a Community Health Services Supervisor (CHSS) assigned in Jo-River Health District told Local Voices.

At the Charlie Town Clinic, locals have agreed to complement the construction of maternal waiting homes in the area by also providing local materials.

“The 27 towns within the clinic catchment have agreed to bring 40 sticks each with USD$10.00 for the construction”, Kermun said. “Three communities have started already and we expect the others to follow”.

Stephen Barduea, a resident of Gbedia Town, said he has understood the importance of MWHs and has been helping to mobilize the community for the rehabilitation of the maternal waiting home at the Gbedia Town health facility.

Barduea said they have held meetings geared toward the reconditioning of the clinic building, and said that once the rainy season ends, work on the building will begin.

According to the OIC of the Gbedia Town Clinic, “More awareness need to be done to get the community involved in the process” in initiating more projects.

Report By: Eric Opa Doue

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