Community hit hard by Ebola begins discussions for new health centre after 20 year wait

SABI car parked at community meeting

After almost 20 years without a suitable health centre, a Western Rural District community in Sierra Leone is redoubling its efforts to work with the local government to kickstart discussions around the building of a vital new facility.

Gbendembu community in Ward 332, Western Area Rural, near Port Loko, was hit hard by the Ebola outbreak in 2014. Many people were coming into the area even during the crisis to visit its fish market. This, coupled with a growing population, and the distance to the nearest health centre, saw the community badly affected.

Community members have recently met with local leaders to highlight the urgent need for a health centre and develop an action plan. The move comes after Gbendembu was chosen as one of the initial target communities of the SABI programme.

About SABI

Working across Sierra Leone, SABI aims to strengthen community-led accountability, increasing awareness of, and demand for, the delivery of basic services – including health, education, social protection, water and energy. The programme supports citizens to identify problems and work with state service providers to overcome challenges in service delivery.

SABI volunteer's shirt close up

Campaign for Good Governance (CGG)

In Gbendembu, SABI partner Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) uncovered the need for an improved health facility during its initial meetings with community members. It found a growing population in the ward had put a strain on health services.

There is a private health centre in the community, which the government had negotiated with to provide some service to the community. But this was not enough and did not cover late evenings, nights and weekends. The Presidential Recovery Priorities (PRPs) did not include the rehabilitation of health centres because they were not able to cover all development needs over the recovery period.

‘Several cries had been made by the ward but no one had given listening ears to address their burning challenge. SABI has created the space for community people to once again voice their concern. We have created a sense of ownership in the communities.’
SABI partner Campaign for Good Governance (CGG)

New health centre

The council has taken up the challenge and contacted the district health medical team (DHMT). The DHMT has found the community has an abandoned market building which could be converted into a health centre. It is now working closely with the council to secure the required funds through local non-governmental organisations to kickstart the construction of the centre.

Through SABI, CGG will continue to work with the community and the authorities to ensure these positive steps become a reality, fostering better working relationships and stronger engagement.

‘We are very optimistic about the moves taken by the DHMT and strongly believe Ward 332 will have a health centre before the end of SABI programme.’

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