…As UNFPA Donates Ambulances, Builds Maternal Home
By Jimmey C. Fahngon
In continuation of its efforts aimed at strengthening the health sector of Liberia, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has donated three brand new Toyota Land Cruisers ambulances to Liberia.
The UNFPA has also constructed a maternity waiting home in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County.
Speaking last Friday at the turning over and dedicatory ceremony in Sinje, UNFPA-Liberia Resident Representative Dr. Oluremi Sogunro said the funding for the ambulances and maternity waiting home were provided by the Japanese Government.
Dr. Sogunro said the ambulances will be deployed in Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount and Lofa Counties to be used by the county health teams.
He said ambulances are intended to convey patients especially pregnant women who live in hard to reach areas to health facilities.
Dr. Sogunro said UNFPA attaches importance to pregnant women and girls having access to health facilities; as such, it decided to seek assistance from international partners to buttress the Liberian Government efforts in this direction.
The UNFPA-Liberia boss said when women and girls have access to health facilities, it helps to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality and newborn death.
He explained that the maternity waiting home will be used to host women who are seven to eight months pregnant to ensure that they are closer to the health facility and deliver there.
Dr. Sogunro said UNFPA is working with the Ministry of Health to reduce maternal mortality in Liberia which has increased as a result of the Ebola outbreak.
He called on health teams of the three counties not to use the ambulances to transport rice and other things, but only be used for patients especially women and girls.
Dr. Sogunro praised Japan for supporting the works of UNFPA in Liberia.
The UNFPA boss disclosed that the project will be extended to the southeastern counties of Liberia, assured Liberia of UNFPA’s continuous support to the health sector.
In remarks, the Ambassador of Japan to Liberia Kaoru Yoshimura said his country attaches importance to the health of Liberians considering the cordial ties that have existed between the two countries over the years.
Ambassador Yoshimura said Japan wants to ensure that women and girls have access to quality health services, thereby helping to reduce maternal and new born deaths in the post-conflict country.
He told the gathering that the maternal mortality rate of Liberia is the highest in the world, something that drives his country support to the health sector of the post-Ebola nation.
Ambassador Yoshimura underscored the need for collective engagement to improve the delivery of health care to the people, especially women and girls, thereby helping to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality.
He said Japan’s funding to the health sector demonstrated its commitment to improve the delivery of better health care to the people of Liberia particularly women and girls.
Earlier, Dr. Joseph Kerkula, Director for Family Health Division at the Ministry of Health commended UNFPA for its continuous support to the country’s health sector.
He said over the years, the UN agency has provided substantial support to Liberia’s health sector in every area, thereby strengthening government’s effort to provide quality and affordable health services to the people.
Dr. Kerkula also praised the Japanese Government for supporting Liberia in its recovery drive.
He said the donation of the ambulances and construction of the maternity waiting home will greatly help to reduce maternal mortality, which the government considers as an emergency.
Dr. Kerkula calls on the health officers of the three counties to ensure that the ambulances are pre-positioned in areas that they can easily access patients to health centers.
The cost of the three ambulances is put at US$150,000, while US$45,000 was used to construct and furnish the maternity waiting home Sinje.
During the program, chiefs, elders and citizens of the beneficiary counties gowned the Japanese Ambassador for his country’s continuous support to Liberia.