By Joaquin Sendolo
Grand Bassa County Superintendent Levi Demah says the lack of health facilities in rural parts of the county seriously impedes healthcare delivery, and is responsible for increasing maternal and neonatal deaths.
Expressing the concern in his remarks at the opening of a two-day health conference in Buchanan, superintendent Demah said many pregnant women walk long distances, even up to four hours, to reach a health facility, a feat he said that is quite challenging in their condition.
Realizing the challenges associated with scarcity of health facilities, he said his administration, in collaboration with national government and foreign partners, is embarking on building health centers in more parts of the county.
There are over 150 participants attending the health conference in Buchanan with the majority being residents of the county. The superintendent urged participants to be bold to discuss health issues confronting them, adding that they must not forget “eye health” as blindness is affecting a number of people.
The county health officer, Joseph Seika, described the brainstorming session as “unique” and said it was postponed on several occasions due to unforeseen circumstances.
Maternal and child deaths, Dr. Seika noted, is a painful experience to “us who are on the frontline of providing healthcare services.” He challenged participants, comprising both community and health service providers from the eight health districts of the county to think critically about the causes of the increase in maternal and newborn deaths in Bassa in order “to mitigate the ugly situation.”
Other personalities who made remarks during the opening of the two-day gathering were representatives from the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
On behalf of USAID, Lisa Childs pledged the continued support of her agency to the overall improvement of basic healthcare in the country. Dr. Philderald Pratt, representing UNFPA, observed that Grand Bassa County was on the right path by addressing issues affecting the health of mothers and newborns, which is a problem that involves all sectors of society.
Dr. Pratt said, “Pregnancy is not a sickness, just a physiological change” adding, “she is not sick, so why die? All she needs is care to prevent her from sickness and diseases.”
Reflecting on his time served as a medical doctor in Grand Bassa, Dr. Pratt praised the county leadership for taking steps to find solutions from within to the unacceptable maternal and child deaths.
He added, “Solving your own problems is the best strategy because you can’t sit and wait for someone else from MOH or partners to address them.” He concluded by offering the UNFPA’s services to ensure improved healthcare for mothers and newborns.
The conference is jointly organized by the Ministry of Health, the Grand Bassa County Health Team and health partners, with support from USAID funded Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP)/Restoration of Health Services project, and implemented by Jhpiego.