Africare-Liberia Country Director has disclosed plans by the entity to seek for more partnerships in order to improve the health care delivery system of ‘vulnerable Liberians.’ Africare-Liberia Country Director said they are going to do it by forging partnership with authorities at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH/SW) and other donor partners including the Government of Japan.
Mr. Ernest K. Gaie’s statement was contained in remarks he made over the weekend during ceremony marking the official handover of two maternal waiting homes to the representatives of the Government of Japan from their Embassy in Accra, Ghana.
The handover ceremony was held Friday, June 13, in Congo Town, Monrovia.
The Japanese then turned the keys over to a Representative of the district at the National Legislature, Lester Paye—who also turned the keys over to the district health officer, Francis D. Kollie, and the president of the Trained Traditional Midwives (TTMs), Rebecca Zallen.
According to Mr. Gaie, Africare has been a faithful partner to the Government of Liberia (GOL), particularly through the Ministries of Agriculture and Health and Social Welfare since 1992 serving communities in Bong, Nimba and Grand Cape Mount Counties.
“If we don’t communicate our achievements and challenges to beneficiaries, stakeholders, and donors, no one will know what we are doing. However, we appreciate them for their confidence in our ability to deliver, because we pledged our continued commitment to working with the government and people of Liberia in achieving our developmental goals,” declared Mr. Gaie.
Prior to turning the keys over to the First Secretary at the Japanese Embassy in Ghana, Yushihiko Higuchi, Mr. Gaie expressed gratitude for the construction of the homes in areas where access to health facilities have been difficult. Mr. Higuchi was accompanied to Liberia by a colleague, Yuki Takanashi.
For his part, Mr. Higuchi assured Africare and the Government of Liberia (GOL) of his country’s desire to ensure that more development aids come to Liberia with the aims to reduce poverty.
“We are delighted for these projects, because the community members are also delighted. Our intervention shows our commitments to the development of Africare-Liberia to implement most of the intended projects, because we need more services—not the building facilities as the process was just the beginning,” Mr. Higuchi asserted to a round of applause.
Those facilities were supported by the people of Japan under the Grant Assistant for Grassroots Human Security Project. It became necessary when the Japanese Government committed funding of US$112, 959 for the construction and full furnishing of the two maternal waiting homes in Haindi and Fenutole, Bong County.
The grant had supported Africare-Liberia’s efforts in assisting the GOL and the MOH/SW achieves its national policy road map for accelerating the reduction of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality in the country.
Africare, on the motto, “Improving Lives, Building Futures,” is supported by ministries of Agriculture, Health and Social Welfare, USAID, The Links Incorporated, UN Women, Government of Japan and IFAD enabling poor rural people to among other things, overcome poverty.
The Links Incorporated Waiting Home at Phebe was dedicated in February last year.
The entity works with a mission to improve the quality of the people of Africa. It is a leading non-governmental organization committed to addressing African development and policy issues by working in partnership with African people to build sustainable, healthy and productive communities.
The maternal waiting homes address many challenges pregnant women and mothers face in accessing basic health care.
It is an opened secret that many expectant mothers in Liberia complain about distances to health facilities and the lack of safe accommodation. With the Japanese Government’s support and Africare Liberia’s implementation, pregnant women in Haindii, Fenutole and its environs will be able to access facilities-based care before and during delivery.
The idea behind the Africare sponsored maternal waiting homes is to provide pregnant women an opportunity to convalesce before the birth of their children.
At present, there are eight completed maternal waiting homes including the ones in Yila Mission (first commissioned in March, 2011), and Phebe Compound, Suakoko District respectively.
After delivery, the women spend a maximum of three days in the waiting home, but in the case of special deliveries, the women are allowed to stay even longer where they are attended to by a trained traditional midwife. Each patient (mother) normally leaves the waiting home with a “mama baby kit” filled with soap, a baby blanket, shirts and rubber underwear for the newborns.
Earlier in his welcome and introductory remarks, Africare Senior Primary Health Coordinator in Bong County, George Toe said, the project intends to bring lots of benefits to Liberia, mainly to locals of the two communities.
According to him, maternal mortality is a major issue in the country; this is why the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals-Five (MDG-5) which seeks to reduce maternal mortality by two-third before 2015 became necessary.
Therefore, in Liberia, Mr. Toe said, the strategy of meeting that goal is to increase access to facility-based delivery. However, taking into consideration access of the rural poor, most of them live beyond five kilometer distances; this means one does not have access to the nearby health facility; therefore, the initiative being embarked upon by Africare and partners is to address the issue of access to facility-based health care delivery, among other developments.
In remark also, Representative Paye acknowledged the intervention of the Japanese through its international corporation (JICA) in the development of Liberia.
However, the Bong County lawmaker decried the many challenges including the deplorable road networks across the country.
“With all the construction of the beautiful health facilities, if no access to the road how will the patients and or the pregnant women be transported easily to these facility-based deliveries,” Rep. Paye lamented.
He then appealed to the Japanese through the two First Secretaries to not consider the commissioning of the maternal waiting homes as the end of their intervention to help Liberia, but the beginning.
The District Health Officer, Francis D. Kollie and the president of the TTMs, Rebecca Zallen both them expressed gratitude to Africare-Liberia and their Japanese counterpart for the project promised to maintain them at all times.
The Friday’s ceremony was attended by several other individuals including some members of Africare’s staffers, local chiefs and representatives from the office of Bong County Superintendent among others.