-Turn over maternity waiting homes in Sinje
The government of Liberia and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have donated three ambulances and equipment to the County Health Teams of Lofa, Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount counties to help in the transfer of emergency cases in their respective counties.
The government and the UNFPA also turned over a maternity waiting home in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County, while Lofa and Gbarpolu counties’ maternity waiting homes and extension of healthcare centers projects are underway.
Dr. Oluremi Sogunro, Resident Representative of UNFPA, said the three ambulances are valued at US$150,000, while the maternity waiting home in Sinje is valued at US$45,000.
Dr. Sogunro made the remarks on Friday in Sinje during the official turning over of the maternity waiting home and ambulances and the launch of a project called “Promoting Human Resource for Maternal Health in Post Ebola Liberia Recovery and Restoration with the Aims of Reducing Maternal Mortality.”
He said the project is supported by the government of Japan, the World Bank and the government of Liberia, adding that “The project is helping to reduce maternal mortality rate in the country.”
Dr. Sogunro said during the Ebola crisis, many health centers across the country were closed, particularly in Grand Cape Mount County.
“I can remember that only one health facility was opened, which means that many of the women never had access to health centers to deliver. Women who are pregnant don’t care whether there is crisis or not in times of delivery,” Dr. Sogunro said.
He said many women were dying during the Ebola crisis, because hospitals and Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) were closed, “which subsequently gave birth to this project.”
“At UNFPA,” he said, “we came together and created a program known as ‘Mano River Maternal Health Response for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone’ with the first support coming from the government of Japan. Some of the money was used in Liberia to assign midwives at clinics and hospitals, which led to an increase in deliveries at health centers.”
With support from partners, Dr. Sogunro said three medical doctors are currently in Liberia and assigned at various hospitals, including Jallah Lone Hospital in Gbarpolu, Telewoyan Hospital in Lofa and St. Timothy Hospital in Grand Cape Mount, who also provide services to other clinics in the counties, with the intent to give women full access to health centers.
Dr. Sogunro said the program hopes to reach other counties, especially in the western region of Liberia, adding: “Our assigned medial doctors will be providing training to nurses.”
Also speaking, Kaoru Yoshimura, the Ambassador of Japan to Liberia, said he was pleased that the ongoing project is helping to save lives in Liberia.
Ambassador Yoshimura said Liberia has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, “which must be quickly addressed.”
He said his government will continue to support UNFPA and other organizations to ensure that some of the problems are addressed, especially those affecting women.
“Improving the situation is cardinal and I hope that the beneficiaries will continue to take advantage of the opportunity provided. We are seeing the program making impacts and it will have to continue,” Amb. Yoshimura said.
He added that avoiding traditional practices and engaging in community awareness programs would also help solve or handle some of the problems.
For his part, Dr. Joseph Kerkula, the Director of the Family Health Division of Ministry of Health (MOH), lauded the UNFPA and partners for supporting Liberia’s health sector.
He said after the Ebola crisis, the Ministry of Health crafted a national investment plan for the health sector of Liberia, which will help build a resilient health system for the people of Liberia.
Dr. Kerkula said the government has three major priorities including strengthening the human resource capacity of the country, making sure that Liberia has health workers who are motivated to serve the people and deliver quality healthcare services, and “one which was unearthed during the Ebola crisis: reengineering the infrastructure,” which, he said, remains a priority for the government to make sure that it meets modern-day standards.