The health of women and girls living in 34 communities in and around Margibi County is expected to feature prominently at the new US$500,000 modern health center in Kakata, says Dr. Christiana K. Hena, proprietor of the Waterfield Primary Health Care Center.
“How can we continue to have 12, 13, 14 or 15-year-olds having babies when they are babies themselves? We need to do something about this trend in this country,” Dr. Hena said.
She spoke with this newspaper on Friday, August 12, after Vice President Joseph N. Boakai formally dedicated the center.
Dr. Hena, a general medicine and public health practitioner, said women are direct victims of health related issues, especially with the recent outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease. The increase in maternal mortality, which remains a critical situation, needs more focus, she added.
She said 95 percent of her activities at the health center will primarily focus on reducing the many health issues that women face in the country.
“At this new health center services that we are going to be rendering include pharmacy, dental department, pediatric ward, eye department and an X-ray room, rooms for adult screening and diagnostic labs. We also have a triage for screening patients before they are allowed into the main health center,” she stated. Other services will include cancer screening, telemedicine and care for women.
She disclosed that in the mean, the age of Liberian mothers range from 12 to 16; something she said is not only very dangerous to their health, but also contributes to the increase in maternal mortality and neonatal deaths in the country.
“It’s a burden to start having children at the early age because they are not mature enough to take care of themselves,” she said.
Dr. Hena further stated that she will expand services to illnesses she considers ‘high risk areas,’ including malaria, diarrhea and others. She disclosed that she established the health facility because of her love for humanity and to contribute to saving more lives through her medical experience.
“I have no passion in becoming a representative or even thinking of contesting for any political position. My key focus is to serve my country, patients, and make sure more women are healthy; reduce maternal and infant mortality; and improve the living condition of my people through a healthy life,” she said.
She used the occasion to call on humanitarian organizations, the Government of Liberia and other partners to provide support to the health center so it can expand its services.
Several women who attended the program were in a celebratory mood at the official opening ceremony of the center. Dr. Hena stated that when the center is fully operating, patients will pay a minimum fee, meant for them to appreciate the services that would be provided. At the moment, every service she provides is free-of-charge.
Before the new facility was constructed, Dr. Hena treated patients at her mini health center at her residence. She runs an NGO—Health Women, Healthy Liberia—that caters to both women and children.
Mary Francis, 40, who lives in Kakata, expressed satisfaction over the opening of the facility and told the Daily Observer that most of the health related cases at various hospitals are mainly about women.
“Women are facing dangerous health problems about maternal mortality and children are also dying because of lack of good health centers, bad roads, and sometimes they walk long distances to give birth. Many of them are also suffering from chronic infections; and more over the teenage pregnancy has increased,” she said.
Madam Francis appealed to county authorities to follow the example of Madam Hena and restore better health care centers in the county to reduce deaths and save the lives of women and others.
“The opening of this center is a great blessing for us women in this county because most of our problems will be easily solved and we will begin to experience the power of a healthy life; especially dealing with a woman, who you can explain your secret problems to,” said Rosetta Zayzay of Kakata.
She explained that women are free to discuss their health problems with another woman because they understand each other. She lauded the efforts of Dr. Hena for bringing hope to women and families in that area.