Bong County Patients Must Cross Rivers in Canoes to Access Health Care


Fuamah District, Bong County – The health care delivery system in rural Liberia remains a big problem, due to many factors ranging from lack of roads to bad roads conditions, and lack of medical equipment, qualified health workers to drug shortage.

“Fuamah District is a very big district with five clans and two of those clans are across the St. Paul River and because of this division by the St. Paul River, it is very difficult for people to get to Degei and Jungle James.

Degei and Jungle James are almost at the boundary between Bong and Gbarpolu Counties,”- Hampton B. Giddings, Commissioner, Fuamah District, Bong County.

Bong County which comprises eight districts including Zota, Panta Kpaai, Kokoyah, Jorquelleh, Sanoyea , Suakoko, Salala and Fuamah Districts, has 39 clinics and three Hospitals and with a population of over 389,000 many do not have access to health care facilities.   

One of such districts that suffer the most in terms of health care delivery is Fuamah District, a hard to reach area where residents have to commute across the St. Paul River to get to the nearest clinic.

“Fuamah District is a very big district with five clans and two of those clans are across the St. Paul River, and because of this division by the St. Paul River, it is very difficult for people to get to Degei and Jungle James.

Degei and Jungle James are almost at the boundary between Bong and Gbarpolu Counties,” Hampton B. Giddings, Commissioner of Fuamah District, Bong County told FrontPageAfrica in an interview.

Speaking at the 3rd quarterly review held at the Phebe Hospital in Suakoko, Bong County, Commissioner Giddings said things are so bad in his District due to the bad road condition.

He says the pressing situation is forcing his people to carry pregnant women and sick family members on their shoulders to get to the town near the river to crossover and get to the only clinic.

“Sometimes pregnant women, who are taken to the clinic in hammocks, die on the way before reaching to the clinic.  Do you think I feel good when a baby and mother die? I feel that I am not doing anything, so the child and mother died”, the Commissioner said.

The county in the past, has been neglecting Fuamah district when it comes to basic health needs, this is why the district is underdeveloped. To get to Degei and Jungle James, you have to cross the river and get on a bike and ride a very narrow road before you get there.”  

He said in the past, things were bad that they had untrained nurses, because it was difficult to get trained nurses to provide the kind of health services they are now getting under the leadership of Dr. Gobee Logan and the present Bong County Health Team.

“It is usually said that when there are no qualified, the unqualified becomes qualified. Dr. Logan has placed Degei on the map in terms of health care delivery and I am willing to work with him for our people to get the best health care in the district.

The county health team usually visits us in the district, which is good. Now we have trained health workers in our district to deliver our people from the nightmare we had in the past”, said Commissioner Giddings.  

Commissioner Giddings who has been commissioner of the district since 2010 declared that one of his major challenges as perception by some locals that he is receiving a lot of money from Government that he is not sharing with them as a disappointment.

“One of my major challenges since I took over, people do not appreciate me and perceive me to have so much money, anywhere I pass, people are accusing me of having government money.
Even if you try your best to serve the people, they will still feel you have government money that you should be providing for them but you are not doing it”, he expressed.

Commenting on the pending 2017 elections, Commissioner Giddings said they have started educating their people to vote right and not sell their votes for money and rice.

“We are talking to our people to vote right come elections and not sell their votes. I hear some of our people saying they will sell their votes for money or rice, but I tell them that their vote is what will deliver them tomorrow.

It is not the matter of what they will put in their pockets tomorrow, but their votes will deliver them from the conditions they find themselves in today, so they should vote right”, added Commissioner Giddings.

Nearly all of the clinics in the various districts stressed on the issues of maternal deaths, due to the lack of maternal waiting rooms and the lack of electricity from Generator or solar panel to deliver pregnant women in labour. They also complained about delay in drugs and incentives.

“Our solar panel is down, so every delivery done at the time is done by candle light, Chinese light or flash light,” says Mabel King, Belefanai Clinic Officer in Charge, (OIC).

“We are undertaking building project because our clinic is small, labour patients, post Patten mothers are put in the same room, and we also use the same room for short stay patients, so there is no confidentiality,” says  Christiana T. Chris, OIC of Gbalatauh clinic

Accordingly, Naama Clinic, requested for maternal waiting room because of limited space and delay in drugs supplies.  

Gabriel Johnson, OIC of Shankpallai District, emphasized on delay in incentives, understaff, lack of drugs, no staff quarters and no staff on government’s payroll.

In settling some of the issues brought forth by OIC of the various clinics, Deputy County Health Officer Alphonso W. Koffa, promised to address many of the concerns.

“The issue with the solar light, we will sent the technician, we will provide fuel and do all of the minor renovations.

Regarding the issue of incentives, our partner Africare contract has ended, so the Ministry will address the incentives for three months until Africare can be able to renew their contract. We will provide radio for hard to get areas.

The problem with access to Degei and Jungle James is a national issue, which needs to be addressed by the government. But we are happy that we have two staffs assigned to Degei,” said Koffa.

Mae Azango [email protected]

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