By William Q. Harmon
The health services delivery system of Bong County is in a total mess due to the dysfunctional state of almost all of the ambulances used to transport patients, most specifically the transportation of pregnant women and those in need of emergency medical attention at various health facilities in the county, the County Health Officer (CHO), Dr. Samson K. Arzoaquoi, has raised a red-flag.
Dr. Arzoaquoi noted that four out of the five ambulances that the county has at its disposal are not functional anymore, and this is hampering the work of the county health team, thus leading to citizens of the county who are in need of the ambulances services being denied them. He said that some of the ambulances have been down for over six months.
Speaking at the Bong County advocacy meeting on strategies to reduce maternal and new-born mortality in Gbarnga, Dr. Arzoaquoi stated that the entire county, which comprises four large districts, is now dependent on a single ambulance to cater to emergency cases.
Though he did not indicate who is responsible for the maintenance of the ambulances, he noted that due to the present situation (the lack of ambulances to cater to the needy), there is a likelihood that the county may lose ground in the fight against the high incidence of maternal and newborn mortality in the county, which in recent time has drastically reduced, if concerned authorities do not do all they can to have the situation reversed immediately these gains are in danger of being reversed.
Dr. Arzoaquoi: “We have a very serious situation in this county which has to do with the ambulances that are supposed to cater to our patients in emergency situations. All of the ambulances that this county has are broken down with the exception of one. This is really hampering the work of the county health team. So we are calling on our county authority and other stakeholders to come to our aid as soon as possible.”
He furthered, “The lives of our mothers and children are in the most in danger, and they are at risks because they cannot walk far distances while pregnant or carrying young children to seek medical attention. The one ambulance that we have working cannot serve the entire Bong County. As a result of this, the lives of our people are really in danger and we must do something to bring the situation under control as soon as possible before it becomes worse for us.”
Bong County has the lowest maternal and newborn mortality rates of the 15 counties of Liberia, this is primarily due to the maternal hospital that only that county has at the moment.
Speaking at the meeting, the Administrative Assistant to Superintendent Selena Mappy, Mr. Joseph M. Urey, assured the Bong CHO that the situation will be prioritized at what he termed as the soon-to-be county setting that is to be held in Gbarnga.
The county setting, according to him, is a general meeting that comprises the county Legislative Caucus, the local administration headed by the Superintendent, paramount and clan chiefs, as well as other stakeholders. It is at this meeting that developmental and other initiatives relative to the county are discussed.
Mr. Urey served as a proxy for Superintendent Mappy at the occasion, and he noted that issues relating to health cannot be compromised. He promised to liaise with other officials of the county to ensure that the issue of the ambulances received maximum attention at the general county meeting.
“Dr. Arzoaquoi, you took the right decision in pointing out this critical situation at this gathering because these are some of the things that we need to discuss at the county setting. What you need to do now is to start lobbying with other officials so that your plight can be addressed,” Mr. Urey, who also serves as Secretary General at the County Setting said.
Meanwhile Liberia’s Ambassador for Maternal and Newborn health, Madam Miata Fahnbulleh, told stakeholders at the meeting that the issue of maternal and newborn mortality needs to be collectively tackled if Liberia is to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four, which calls for a drastic reduction of the number of women and children that die during childbirth, deadline in 2015.
Ambassador Fahnbulleh called on the participants, especially the men, to ensure that pregnant women go to the hospital or other health facilities to seek proper medication that will ensure that they (Pregnant women) have safe deliveries.