When parents have a child in Finland, they don’t have to worry about a huge medical bill. In Liberia, the story is quite different.BRAC-Liberia has scaled up on reproductive maternal and neonatal child health services in the country. It is a leading a non-profit development organization with a mission to fulfilling the potential of underprivileged people through the implementation of programs in health, agriculture, poultry and livestock, youth empowerment as well as microfinance.Accordingly, BRAC’s Reproductive Maternal, Neo Natal and Child Health (RMNCH) program is implemented by their staff, who work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, along with community health promoters, whose works are aimed at improving health at the community level.BRAC has designed this program as a way forward in giving its own support to the government by helping people to recognize the importance of accessing health facilities, thereby reducing maternal and child mortalities in the country.At age 19, Deborah Dixon is one of the BRAC RMNCH project beneficiaries. Ms. Dixon is grateful to the Community Health Promoter for the continuous health awareness, which has so far encouraged her to always seek treatment at a health facility rather than staying home. “BRAC workers also talk to us on breastfeeding and taking our children for vaccination,” she said. She also talked about how BRAC health workers pass by after every two weeks to do follow up.Sonnie Scott, another beneficiary and a mother of three, who lives in West Point, told the Observer Health Desk that she didn’t know anything about the program until she came in contact with the health promoters. She had swollen feet as a result of pregnancy. The health promoters encouraged her to go to the nearby health facility, where she remained and delivered her baby recently. “After giving birth, they normally make sure everything is in place for the baby, including breastfeeding,” she said of BRAC’s health workers.Kumasa Mulbah, a health coordinator, mentioned that as these health promoters visit the people daily from house to house, they are able to interact with them, encouraging the patients to realize the need to come to the health facility.“Learning to recognize high risks in pregnancy,” Mulbah indicated, “is among a series of trainings conducted by BRAC in partnership with the Ministry of Health, where all of the community health promoters and trained traditional midwives (TTMs) are taught to encourage pregnant women go to health facilities as often as possible.“A lot of people in the communities believe in the health promoters and TTMs because they are living in the community with them and are always on hand to provide much needed health services and tips,” Mulbah stated. She further said some women, who were previously refusing to seek health care at the facility, now have a great deal of confidence in the TTMs and community health promoters.“We currently have booths at different weekly markets where we give services like female condoms, injectables and pills. As we go to the communities, we encourage them to go to the facilities and to take family planning seriously,” she added.According to BRAC, West Point and parts adjacent have approximately 4,000 households and 20 community health promoters. Under the RMNCH, BRAC Liberia encourages TTMs and the community health promoters to identify pregnant women and girls and refer them to the nearest health facility through their household visits to community dwellers.Mr. Mohammed Abdus Salam, BRAC Liberia Country Representative, expressed his organization’s total commitment to reducing maternal and newborn deaths in the country. He stressed the need to work with other partners and key stakeholders to realize this goal.Meanwhile, scores of residents in the West Point area are calling on the Ministry of Health to prioritize the Reproductive Maternal, Neo Natal and Child Health services for women and adolescents. This, they believe, will help reduce risks associated with maternal and child health. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
…calls for integrated approach to tackle high unemploymentBy Lakhram BhagiratRegion Two, Pomeroon-Supenaam, has for more than two years not seen any major investment to boost its crippling economy—which is plagued by issues affecting the rice industry.This is according to Region Two Chairman, Devanand Ramdatt, who, in an interview with this newspaper, said that the crippling economy is due to the lack of consultation and engagement of the administration and residents of Region Two.He explained that for the predominantly farming community, the lack of markets for produce has been severely affecting the investment opportunities in the region.“In the case of Pomeroon, the farmers were affected due to lack of market for their produce, especially those persons who produce fruits; and that is a direct link due to the loss of the contract by a local company to supply juice, because most likely some of those produce came from the Pomeroon,” he detailed.“We visited a lot of the communities, and we have seen farmers having their produce deteriorating in their fields, and their explanation is pointing us to the direction of a lack of market,” Ramdatt noted.He opined that there ought to be a more holistic approach in dealing with the lack of investment and the high unemployment rates. He added that the Government, through its agencies, has to formulate a developmental plan to address the economic woes affecting the region.“We have not had, also, (any) major expansion or development of any new sector in the region — no new development; and there are very high levels of unemployment. More and more, qualified persons are not getting jobs. We are having more persons coming back from Venezuela, and they, too, would add to that level of unemployment, and that high percentage of unemployment will increase. We had absolutely no new investment in Region Two,” Ramdatt explained.He added that Central Government, through its agencies like GO-Invest and the Ministry of Business, can engage the region and its people to formulate a developmental plan to help the region’s struggling economy. “In many communities, we have students not going to school because of the negative impact of the economy. We have challenges (in regard) to youth unemployment. We want new investment opportunity to develop our people, and we need it now,” he added.In 2015, the sod was turned for the Institute of Applied Science and Technology’s (IAST) $100 million rice cereal factory, which later came into operation. The factory was expected to create more than 200 jobs for Essequibians by utilising rice from the Region. However, the Regional Chairman explained, the factory operated for a while, but has now ceased operation for unknown reasons.He added that as far as the statistics show, the factory made very little impact in terms of the unemployment rate and its contribution to the overall economic development of the region.He said the region previously had the Aurora Land Development Project. “That project utilized thousands of acres of land in the southern part of the region, being developed to have crop production so that many of our farmers can have an area that has useful infrastructure to deal with crop production,” Ramdatt related.He said he is hopeful that the project would be developed again, so that it could be an investment opportunity for the region. He related that Government should also provide more assistance for the development of the Pomeroon coconut industry, noting that it has unexplored potential.Tourism sectorIn relation to the region’s tourism sector, the Region Two Chairman noted that more needs to be done to further develop the sector, since the infrastructure leading to two of its major attractions are in deplorable state.Ramdatt explained that while the Regional Administration maintains the roads leading to Lakes Mainstay and Capoey, more needs to be done, since it requires the construction of a proper road network to access the sites.On the issue of roads, Ramdatt said the region’s main road is in dire need of rehabilitation to help curb the high accident rate. He said the road has outlived its time and it is beginning to sink in some parts, creating unexpected “drops” for motorists utilising the mostly unlit stretch of road. Quite often, the unexpected drops result in drivers losing control of their vehicles and running into ditches, or even colliding with other vehicles or utility poles, he said.This publication ventured to the Charity Market Centre on Thursday, and vendors operating there reported that they have seen a decline in sales for the entire 2017.“We know January is a hard month, but for the whole of last year business take blows… Them people ah save them money and not spending like before,” vendor Andrew reported.Collectively, the vendors are contending that not enough is being done to boost the economy in the region, so that residents would spend more.