Gbarpolu County – Residents of 32 communities in Bombom Clan, Bopolu District are calling on the government and non-governmental organizations to come to their aid by equipping a 10-room clinic to become functional.
Report By: Abigail Ballah, Responsible Health Reporting Fellow
The residents have increased their call as several people who need health care are showing less confidence in health facilities that are faraway from their communities.
This is happening as misinformation and rumors about the coronavirus pandemic also undermine the confidence communities have in the health care system.
Clan Chief Johnson Diannah of Bombom says people may easily have confidence in healthcare workers who they know or those who live within their community than the ones that are faraway.
“Some of our people are not still going to clinic far away,” he said, adding that traveling long distance, lack of drugs and diminishing trust in health facilities that are far away are some of the reasons many residents refusing to seek medical care.
“Right now, some of them are scared about this coronavirus in our country, so if we get help and our clinic opens the long walking will stop and we will have health workers working here too and some of their [community members] fears will slowly go away.”
The construction of the clinic was financed by the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) and was turned over to the community on August 4, 2017.
The building is now being abandoned and unkept, something town chief Ballah Kabba says it is because the community members and the county administration are disinterested in the project.
“It has been three years now [since the building was turnover] and we’re just brushing, brushing, and brushing [the grass],” Chief Kabba said of effort to keep the facility clean.
“But for now, when we talk to the youth and the women [to clean the building], they say that they are tired working for nothing.”
He continued; “The way the county health team promising us every day, I will again talk to my people to clean around that building when they bring people and medicine to open it [the clinic].”
Added the General Town Chief Francis Chowoe: “We have the best clinic [building] built here but unfortunately, we are still crying for healthcare services for our people and we will not stop until the people hear [our plight] and come to our clan rescue.”
At the same time, Daddeh Kesselly, the chair of the community women, said that the government must act faster to avert the several challenges community members face when seeking health services at facilities several miles away.
“Some of our women can deliver on the road when they carrying them to other clinics because the road is far – so we want medicine and people in this clinic to be helping us, our children and big belly too,” Madam Kesselly said.
Responding to the community concerns, Jusu Kpanah, who is the community health department director of the county health team, said the clinic was not captured in the 10-year health plan of the county.
Kpanah told LocalVoicesLiberia that it was constructed without the consent of the County Health Team.
“If they [NOCAL] had let us know, we were going to advise them. So, you see right now, the government is not in the position to support that clinic because it is outside of government’s 10-year strategic health delivery plan,” he said.
“So, let them be using the nearest clinics around them and be patient – we are talking to the county leadership [to source funding] for that clinic.”
For his part, the District lawmaker claims that he is “pushing for the clinic to be placed in the national budget” although he did not give further detail about his intervention.
Said Rep. Alfred Koiwood: “We know that NOCAL built that clinic, so we are going to work with the county health team to see how we can factor that clinic to be getting regular budgetary support.”