The once-towering medical Mecca destroyed by the country’s brutal civil war is back to its height. The Serabu Hospital located in the Southern district of Bo, is back to its glory days as things are now in place to provide proper health care for people not only in the district and its immediate environs but also the entire country with patients from neighbouring Guinea caching in on the medical largesse it once again provides.
The Hospital was known nationwide for its proper health care delivery as major ailments were cured with well trained and qualified doctors, both local and expatriates, were always available to render service for a very minimal fee.
However these services were halted when the village was attacked by RUF rebels and the hospital was comprehensively looted and completely vandalized. In 2006 the hospital was officially opened after rehabilitation work had been done with funds from the European Union (EU).
During a visit to the hospital recently Awoko spoke with senior staff and some patients to know about the state of affairs of the hospital. The hospital’s Finance Officer, Vincent Sevalie in an interview with AWOKO said that the hospital is open to everyone as they do have patients coming from all over the country and from Guinea and Liberia to seek proper medical care.
He said they treat all sorts of cases at a minimal cost as consultation fee is just Le 2,000 (two thousand Leones) for adults and le 1,000 (one thousand Leones) for children. He went on: “Whenever they come to the hospital they only spend about Le 15,000 for everything including consultation and prescribed medication. We always ensure that patients get their medication except in cases when the medicine is not available. We also have one of the cheapest costs for Caesarian Section which is Le 250,000 including admission. ”
Mr. Sevalie said that they do provide ambulance services for their patients free of cost whenever they are called upon. They only need to pay for the care adding that the ambulance service is called for mostly by pregnant women.
The Finance Officer lamented over the impact of traditional medication which the patients sometimes resort to before reporting to the hospital after it has failed them. He said the locals prefer taking traditional medicine before reporting to see a doctor. “Most of the time they are rushed to the hospital after the situation has become serious.”
He said the hospital provides free health care to patients just like the one offered by the public hospitals including to pregnant women, under-five children and breast-feeding mothers.
Speaking about the facilities offered by the hospital, he said “we do provide screening, scanning and carry out all types of tests including HIV/AIDS”. He went on that they treat patients with tuberculosis and HIV for free and that they are planning to provide food for patients on admission as some of them really need it.”
On the inflow of patients who visit the hospital, Vincent Sevalie said fifty patients do so daily and complain mostly of malaria, and typhoid.
The Coordinator of the Public Health Department, Patrick Ansu said their job at the hospital was to ensure they meet those not chanced to visit the hospital because of certain reasons as they understand their environment and conditions.
Mr Ansu said they deal with preventive measure and personal hygiene stressing that whenever they go on their outreach programmes they ensure the patients are given proper medical care and attention.
Speaking about the free health care service, he said it was not good that drugs were only available for certain conditions or sicknesses pregnant women or suckling mothers suffer from. He said that whenever they go on outreach programmes they are faced with difficulties because of the unavailability of drugs for certain sicknesses which the free health care does not provide for. Explaining about some of the constraints they are faced with, the Coordinator said some of the roads are rough and are not accessible but since they want to reach those people they will have to force their way to do so. Another constraint they face is that of inadequate supply of drugs. “Sometimes we really want to go to certain areas but we lack adequate supply of drugs to do so”.Mamie, not her real name, is a patient from a nearby village. She commends the staff for caring for her for two weeks at the hospital. She said she was very impressed as she was expecting to pay Le 300,000 and “to my greatest surprise I was told to pay only Le 50,000 for admission and all the medicines prescribed.”
By Betty Milton