Investigations have revealed that most of the Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) within Kono district in the eastern region of the country are without refrigerator and solar energy to ensure the safe keeping of some of the drugs, vaccines and blood bank for lactating mothers, pregnant women and their children – a development that threatens the effectiveness of the free health care services in that part of the country.
Upon inspection of the PHUs labour rooms in the villages visited it was reported that most of the facilities were either lacking or not functional as women were said to have been delivering on wooden beds covered with blankets and other local materials.
According to the nurse in charge of Senjekor village community health centre in Nimikoro chiefdom, HawaMansaray, because of the lack of refrigerator and electricity supply to ensure the safe keeping of the drugs and the provision of light to the health centre, patients who came to the centre for their children’s vaccination will mostly return home without their children being vaccinated. This is because the system might be down when the vaccinator went to collect the drugs in the town where they are kept for safe keeping.She added that they have realized that vaccination prevents the child from many illness and that she (the nurse) will mostly use her mobile cell phone torchlight to deliver pregnant women on labour.
The Section Chief of Wordu Town in Sandor Chiefdom,FasulukuTambaKarkamoe, stated that he mostly signs for the free health care drugs when they are brought for delivery to the Community health centre in his town. However he noted that the supply of these drugs some times is delayed which results to some of them getting missing.
He disclosed that electricity is one of the major challenges faced by the health centre as there is no solar energy to supply electricity and the only refrigerator that used to keep the vaccines has gone out of use for a very long time.He added that “We do not have the means to repair these items and we were left with no option but to take the free health care drugs to Kayima town which is about seven (7) miles from the wordu town health centre for safe keeping in a refrigerator,” he noted.
Similarly in Tefeya community health centre in the same chiefdom, Nurse Mariama Koroma, disclosed that the PHU covers twenty-four communities in that section, and since her assignment in that centre, drug supply was timely, but that cooling facility was a very big problem for the free health care drugs as there is no refrigerator to preserve the drugs and vaccines, unless they had to take them to another village Bangbema eight (8) miles away from the PHU for safe keeping.
Councillor Mohamed Kabbah of Ward 74 in Bumpeh town, Nimikoro Chiefdom, also in an interview in front of the Bumpeh community health centre, disclosed that initially there was a problem in his ward in relation to the free health care drugs as most of his people were unable to distinguish the difference between the free health care and the cost recovery drugs. However he said with sensitizations and meeting they were able to understand better. He explained that part of his responsibility is to ensure the effective utilization of the free health care drugs as the health centre have fourteen (14) catchment that rely on it for services.
The Councillor, however, lamented that the Bumpeh community health centre is without a working refrigerator to ensure the safe storage of drugs and that electricity, is not available to provide energy as the solar panel connection is faulty. He disclosed that he had discussed the said issues at council meetings for the timely intervention of the government and other donor partners to salvage the ugly situation in his ward.
Patrick Borbor who happens to be the nurse in charge in NjagbwemaGorama community health centre which is one of the most difficult community to visit in terms of poor road construction, states that the said PHU is completely handicapped in terms of equipment as the refrigerator had been faulty for over five years now and that the District Health Management Team had tried to repair it on three occasion but its cannot perform. He explained that because of the road condition they find it difficult to access the free health care drugs on time as they will have to store them at a village called Togbobu which is about eight miles from the PHU.
Complimenting these complaints, various Councillors including the Chairman of Health and Sanitation in Kono District Council, Councillor SahrMattia, in a meeting held at the Council headquarter, admitted that indeed most of the PHUs in that part of the district lack working refrigerator and electricity, but according to SahrMattia, they are trying their best as a ministry to salvage the problem. He urged the communities to complain about any fault in their PHUs.
Thursday May 08, 2014