Health Workers Struggle with Maternal Education in Gbarpolu

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Watta B. Nyei of Chief Jallah Health Center_web.jpg

Health workers in Bopolu, Gbarpolu County have underscored that traditional belief of people about health is impeding effort to educate them on birth control and other maternal challenges.

Speaking to the Daily Observer on May 4 at the Chief Jallah Medical Center in Bopolu, a certificated midwife of the health center, Watta B. Nyei, said they have noted high birthrate in the county over the time.

Although she did not state the birthrate percentage in the county, she noted that every time they decide to educate the people on birth control, the women oppose the use of condom and other contraceptives with expressed desire that they want direct sexual intercourse.

In order to prevent maternal and neonatal mortality, Watta told this paper that they are constantly engaged in educating the people to regularly visit hospital and not to allow home delivery.

She also said they are in mutual working relationship with Trained Traditional Midwives (TTMs), who go around and bring pregnant women to the health center when they (women) are in labor.

“These TTMs are in the county and they bring women who are in labor on car or hammock to the health center and each TTM who brings a patient is given LD$500.  This is encouraging the TTMs and those for whom the education is intended are going along and responding well,” Watta stated.

As a result of the education provided and assistance from the TTMs, Watta said there is reduction in mortality rate over the two months she has spent in Bopolu with the Chief Jallah Health Center.

Also, a credible source at the hospital says practice of traditional delivery and consultation with soothsayers about one’s illness are still highly practiced in the county.

While people around Bopolu are in some point adhering to medical advice, the source said people in the county still believe in giving ill persons unquantifiable watery herb to take in when they are sick.

According to the source, a patient was brought to the hospital a few months back but family members after consulting a soothsayer decided to take her back home for application of herb.

“She stayed with them for sometimes and they gave her enough of watery herb.  But her condition was not improving and they brought her back again.  We could not handle the matter and therefore transferred the case to JFK in Monrovia, but unfortunately she expired,” the source said.

Gbarpolu was created during the regime of convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

Its people are highly concentrated in tradition that contemporary education and services are rare there.

While people there may have behavioral challenge in adhering to medical advice, the level of poverty in the county also serves as a contributing factor to reaching health center, especially pregnant women.

Many of them live in villages hundreds of miles away from Bopolu, its capital city, and most of the villages are inaccessible to vehicles and motorbikes.

To bring a patient to hospital in Bopolu, people have to tote the patient in a hammock and cover long distances.

The Millennium Development Goals in line with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s plan to fight maternal mortality seeks to ensure reduction in maternal and neonatal mortality.

With this prevailing condition in Gbarpolu, it is unpredictable to say that the goal will be achieved as 2015 is being set to see the result.

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