Poor water, sanitation and hygienic conditions, coupled with limited access to quality health care, are posing serious threats to the livelihood of residents of Camenagah Town, outside Kakata City, Margibi County.
The residents are calling for urgent intervention by government and humanitarian groups to address the deplorable situation by constructing more hand pumps, latrines and a clinic in the area.
The over seven hundred adults and several hundred children in the town have access to only one hand pump as a source of safe drinking water, with no toilets and health facilities. The pump was constructed by SHALOM (Serving Humanity with Open Mind) with support from Water Aid. In the absence of toilets, open defecation is a common practice there, according to residents.
Camenagah residents sounded the appeal during a community dialogue Thursday under the topic WASH and Healthy Start, with focus on constraints pregnant women and children face accessing health care services.
Organized by the local charity, SHALOM, with sponsorship from Water Aid, the initiative is part of the Healthy Start Advocacy program aimed at integrating WASH into the health of mothers and children under five. It also seeks to ensure children get proper water, sanitation and hygiene needed.
Commenting on pregnant women’s health, John Weh, an elder of the town, lamented that they go through difficulties in taking pregnant women to the CH Rennie Hospital, urging SHALOM to advocate for health center in their area.
A mother, identified as MaMa, recalled the horrific instances during the Ebola crisis when pregnant women died in the community because there was no access to health care services.
She said even if they made it to the hospital they would return home unattended to.
Almost breaking down in tears, she prayed: “Deep down in my heart, God, please send somebody to build us a clinic with trained doctors to help the situation.”
Their stories were sad and touching and the situation is appalling and demands urgent attention, a SHALOM official said.
Responding to the residents’ plight SHALOM’s executive director, Pate Chon, empathized with the community’s needs and assured her organization’s willingness to advocate on their behalf in bringing the needed relief.
Mrs. Chon, however, said the program was intended to sensitize community members to ensure children have access to clean water, good hygiene and a healthy environment.
SHALOM’s boss urged the residents to avoid poor hygienic practices when handling children and visit the hospital as frequently as possible to get proper care for their children.
She also challenged the community to take their health issues into their own hands by collectively taking action to address poor sanitation and encouraged the community to build pit latrines and desist from defecating in the bush, which she said is unacceptable.