New clinic serves pregnant women in 10 communities

Christiana Sawaneh - Nurse at Vawahun MCHP

Pregnant women in Vawahun Kayimba used to walk three miles to Pujehun Town to access maternal health services, and often even further for other health services.

Sometimes, pregnant women from the community in Kpanga Chiefdom, Pujehun District, gave birth by the roadside.

And in June 2017, a pregnant woman accompanied by a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA), travelling four miles to Massan Kpaka clinic, died halfway through her journey in the small community of Dia.

After this tragedy, the community in Vawahun Kayimba approached the Paramount Chief and district authorities about the need for their own health centre, but no action was taken.

Through SABI’s Citizen Perception Survey (CPS), Restless Development Youth Accountability Volunteers (YAVs) recorded the experiences of people in Vawahun Kayimba around healthcare. The lack of a health facility came through as a major problem in the community.

YAVs worked with Councillor Antony Fortune, Section Chief Jita Samai, ward development committee members Jebbeh Conteh and Ambrose Fabai, and Amie Kemokai, representing people with disabilities, to develop an action plan to respond to information from the CPS.

When the action plan was presented to then District Medical Officer Dr David Bome, he responded positively but said there were currently no resources to build a new health facility. He encouraged the community to find a structure in the community as their own contribution.

Now with added motivation, the people of Vawahun Kayimba identified a building within the community, all the time working with the YAVs to update their action plan.

Community building used as health facility in Vawahun Kayimba

Next, they approached their member of parliament Alhaji Ansu Kemokai, who contributed Le 10m from constituency development funds to rehabilitate the building.

When the building was finished, Dr Bome coordinated medical support from the health facility in Massan Kpaka, a nurse was temporally posted to support the health facility, and the first quota of drugs were supplied. The DHMT and District Council were invited to open the centre at a formal ceremony.

‘We are beginning to see community people taking leadership for improvement in services,’ Dr Bome said. ‘We will not be able to reach out to all the grassroot communities, but if communities take ownership and meet us halfway, we will take action to solve problems.’

Dr Bome also approved the facility, naming it Vawahun MCHP (maternal and child health post), and permanently stationed nurse Christiana Sawaneh there to run it.

Christiana Sawaneh – Nurse at Vawahun MCHP

‘I was sent to work here purely because the community people asked for the service. I could not have mobilised support for the health centre without the involvement of SABI. The volunteers have been at the top of everything,’ she said.

A facility management committee (FMC) was set up and the DMO organised regular drug supplies from Pujehun Town. YAVS worked with young men and women in the community to fence the health centre and dug a placenta pit at the back of the building.

A placenta pit now available


Regular supply of drugs at Vawahun MCHP

‘The health centre will benefit all of us – we know to build a health centre is not easy,’ said Restless Development Youth Data Collector Idrissa Rogers. ‘That’s why we gave up one of our private buildings. That really helped to speed up the process.

The new DMO Dr Amara Geigbai was approached by the FMC with their 2019 action plan, which highlighted a need for mobility to enhance their outreach efforts.

This was perfect timing, as the District Council had some motorbikes from a Save the Children programme, to support health facilities in need. Vawahun MCHP received a motorbike for outreach and as transport for pregnant women.

Today, people from Vawahun and ten surrounding communities benefit from the facility, which also has an ambulance hotline service for emergencies.

Ambulance hotline service for emergencies

‘We came together as women to support this work because women in this community have suffered for long on these deplorable roads to access health services,’ said Chief Samai. ‘I thank SABI for showing us the way.

Mr Fabai added:SABI has increased the awareness of community people, so they take ownership and champion their own development. I am happy for SABI,’

Ambrose Fabai – Facility Management Committee (FMC) Chairperson