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Bomi County: Residents of Rural Town Want Clinic Reopen After Closure Due to COVID-19

YOMO TOWN, Bomi County – Over 1,000 residents of Yomo Town Clinic catchment communities are seriously worried over the closure of the only health facility due to the coronavirus disease.

“I am feeling bad, because the clinic is closed, I am not taking treatment and sometime my body can be hurting. I’m feeling sick right now,” laments Zoe Koroma, who is eight months pregnant.

“My tablet finished. I am just here now because other communities are calling us names, ‘coronavirus people’, they say we get virus in this town.”

The clinic is about an hour drive away from Tubmanburg City, Bomi County — along the Tubmanburg-Gbarma highway. It was closed after the Officer in Charge (OIC) unknowingly treated a COVID-19 patient. He subsequently contracted the virus and later, two other health workers were tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result, the Bomi County Health Team temporarily closed the hospital on June 30 and launched a rigorous contact tracing exercise. The three health workers have since recovered. On July 28, they were discharged and reunited with their families.

It has been almost two months since the closure of the only health facility in the area and residents are now calling on the government to reopen the clinic because pregnant women, baby mothers and children in the community are at serious health risk.

Zoe Koroma, who is eight months pregnant, is worried that the closure of the clinic is poses serious health risk for her | Photo By: Henry Gboluma, Jr.

“Now-now we are worrying about the big belly and baby mothers in this town,” says Chief George Kerkula of Yomo Town.

“Some of our children here and other communities around this town are actually vexed about this our clinic that is still closed because of the coronavirus.”

Many of the community members are farmers who can barely afford to transport ailing relatives to Tubmanburg, where the main referral medical facility is located.

Sarah Foday, a mother of three children, is worried about getting medical care for her eight-month-old baby. She is also concerned about how the child would complete her regular vaccination.

“We supposed to go to that clinic next month for vaccine, but they have not opened the clinic yet. So, I just want the people to open the clinic for our children them to be taking their vaccines on time,” Sarah said.

Added Jenneh Koroma, a mother of two children: “From here to the Liberia Government Hospital in Tubmanburg City, the road is very bad. Transportation is high, so for some of us, this is the only clinic we [are] depending on when something happened in this town. This clinic that is closed is embarrassing us because we worry about the big belly and children in our town.”

Another resident, Franklin Mulbah “feels very hurt” about the closure of clinic. “So, I pray that things be okay, for the people to reopen this clinic,” he added.

The clinic serves 16 catchment communities with over 1,000 residents, according to Jerry S. Thomas, the OIC for the clinic,  Unfortunately, he has no idea when the clinic will reopen.

“I have been informed by my bosses that few people in the town are still refusing to be tested and the issue of denial is something serious that is delaying the reopening of the clinic,” he said.

Henry B. Gboluma, Jr. is a journalist, social worker and advocate. He's dedicated to reporting issues that affect rural communities. Gboluma is the Deputy Manager for Administration and Public Affairs at the Voice of Gbarpolu in Bopolu. In 2018 and 2019, Gboluma was awarded Journalist of Year in Gbarpolu County for his commitment to empowering communities through development reporting. He holds a Diploma in Broadcast Journalism and has obtained couple of certificates in Management, Humanitarian Communications, Health Journalism and Environment and Occupational Health. Henry is also a student of A.M.E. Zion University College.



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