From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

NEWS
Sierra Leone's Free Health Care a Far-fetched dream for the Women of Mile 91, Yonibana and environs... Health Center remains Dilapidated with No Drugs
By Mohamed Kabba (Awareness Times Northern Province Correspondent) [Tel: +232-33-124516]
Sep 24, 2010, 15:16

The people of the strategic Northern town of Mile 91 and its environs in Sierra Leone's Central District of Tonkolili are seriously grappling with a dilapidated Community Health Center even with the Sierra Leone Government’s much touted introduction of a free health care programme. The Mile 91 Community Health Center is without beds, lacks drugs and in an environment characteristic of bushes and infested with mosquitoes. The health center unfortunately serves as a referral center for twenty-four Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) located in Yonibana, Malal Mara, and Mabang to name a few communities it is serving. The dilapidated and neglected state of the health center has made the health situation at Mile 91, Yonibana and  environs more precarious and life threatening.


In a snap interview with the Community Health Officer of the Center, Amadu Jawara at his Bamba Street office, he referred to the center as very central in provision of health service to the people, but lamented that this is not being considered by the authorities which has resulted in the center so dilapidated and almost “out of use’.


Mr. Jawara said the center lacks basic facilities to meet the primordial role it is supposed to play in delivering health service to the people. He disclosed that the center lacks beds and mattresses, drugs, an ambulance to facilitate the transportation of patients to the health center etc. He said the center is overstretched by the demand for free health care and that they cannot cope, noting, “We cannot give what we do not have,” and said that the situation is even direr in the interior where accessibility is almost impossible.


A pregnant woman, Marie Koroma, who told this reporter that she came from Mabang, twelve miles from Mile 91, said she came to the center via a motorbike. She explained that since her arrival three days to the time of talking to this reporter, she had bought all the drugs that have been administered on her because according to her, “there are no drugs in the health center” and she said she believes that. Asked whether she would stay in the health center giving its poor condition till she gives birth, she responded in a subdued manner.

 

“What do I do? Do you expect me to walk back twelve miles? I will stay here and live by faith until I give birth,” she said in a downcast mood.


One Abu Sesay a native of Mile 91, however commended the efforts of the Health Officer “in doing what he could within his limit to save the lives of pregnant women who came with hope of a respite to the health center,” he said, but noted that his efforts are being frustrated by the lack of commitment by the authorities in Freetown who tell the world about free drugs and free health care but do not send the drugs into the interior.


Mr. Sesay confirmed the neglected state of the center, stating that if nothing is done by way of ameliorating the situation, people will continue to "die here for no just cause."

 

Meanwhile, three Midwives arrived at the health center lately as part of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation Midwifery programme to assist in the sensitization campaign of teenage girls against the incidences of early pregnancies and promote safe motherhood in the communities.



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