By Hassan Bruz (SLENA-Northern Bureau Chief)….
In a bid to complement the efforts of Government in ensuring that the Sierra Leone is free from epidemics such as the recent Ebola scourge which ravaged lot and lots of lives, and in an effort to enhance medical service in deprived Communities, the People of Makali in the Koya Chiefdom have been blessed with a Modern Health Centre. The Health Centre which can be estimated at over 500 Million Leones, is constructed by Ente Nazionale Giuseppini del Murialdo [ENGIM]- an Italian Non Governmental Organisation.
Stefano De Pretto is the Project Manager and doubled as the representative of Italian Government at the handing over ceremony of these Facilities. He said ENGIM was set up in 1977 as an Association that offers guidance and training opportunities for young as well as workers in order to help them develop professional skills and faculties. He said the inspiration to intervene in Educational activities was derived from St. Leonado Murialdo who founded the St. Joseph Congregation. The AID 10680 Project Manager said, ENGIM operates in 17 Countries and it provides Youth Training and Education, Children Care and Protection, School and Vocational Training, Social Activities and Care Facilities for Disadvantaged People. Stefano said he was satisfied with the quality of the structures and thanked all those who have contributed in diverse ways in making sure that the Project becomes an enviable reality. He maintained the hope that the Centre will help to improve the health conditions of the Makali Community.
In his remarks, the Director for ENGIM Sierra Leone- Gerald Aruna said, he was happy for the achievement and commended the Italian Government for the outstanding support. He said his Organisation has done so much in the Koya Community, citing the number of Schools, Water Wells, Drying Floors, Machines and Grain Stores that have so far been provided for the various Communities. He said ENGIM deemed it fit to help revamp hope in the Community because of the ravages of the Ebola in that part of the Country. He said the construction of the Health Centre was a 10 months project which has been completed in record time. While thanking Donors for the immense and timely support, he expressed fears over the apparent lack of maintenance culture which he observed, has the potential to scare away donors.
The Keynote address was delivered by the Port Loko District Medical Officer- Dr. Tom Sesay. He said it was ‘a red letter day’ for the entire District and the inhabitants of Makali in particular. He said ENGIM was in regular consultations with the District Health Management Team to ensure that the desired goal is achieved. He described the Makali Health Centre as one of the best Maternal and Child Health Posts in his District. He said it is a great achievement in the Health Sector. He expressed optimism that it will now reflect on the records for Antenatal, Deliveries and Postnatal clinic attendance. While trying to allay the fears of both the Project Manager and Country Director for ENGIM, Dr. Tom Sesay assured that the Community members will have to take ownership of the facilities. He therefore urged for the formation of a Facility Management Committee [FMC] in addition to the existing Village Development Committee [VDC] so as to keep the Centre effectively operational. The District Medical Officer said, they should always see the need for them to engage Health Service Providers to resolve their differences instead of dowelling in what he referred to as the ‘blame game’. He encouraged all to exhibit a cordial working relation in order to enhance effective quality service delivery.
The Makali Section is categorised as one of the most deprive Communities in the Koya Chiefdom. As explained by Ya Fatu Bangura who shared her experience of her child-bearing age, she used to walk on foot to Masiaka for antenatal clinics and medical check up because there was no Health Centre in the neighbourhood. She therefore admonished her colleague women to take advantage of the opportunity at hand. She was buttressed by the Nurse in Charge of the Centre- Angela M. Tarawalli who has served the Community for about 10 years now. She said, Makali has 17 Catchment Aras. She explained how she inherited an ill- equipped and dilapidated building with a lot of Traditional Birth Attendants in the Area. Nurse Angela said she was overwhelmed with thanks and appreciation for being a part to this unique transformation. Madam Patricia Forki Sonkoi – one of the Chairpersons of some of the Health Committees in Port Loko, also made meaningful contributions. She in fact delivered a lecture on a range of issues including personal hygiene, the constraints in free medical service, teenage pregnancy early marriage and the need for Parents to send their children to school especially the girls.
The Makali Health Centre was officially handed over to the Community on 3rd. March 2017 with a clarion call for the proper utilisation of the facilities. The call was first made by the Ward Councillor –Hassan Bomboli Kanu who is also an acting Section Chief in Koya Chiefdom. It was re-echoed by almost every other speaker including Pa Issa Kamara who zeroed with an appeal for competent staff and quality drugs. The Programme was chaired by the Head of the Ceremonial Chiefs in Koya Chiefdom- Chief Pa Komrabai Kargbo. On behalf of the Paramount Chief Alhajie Bai Kompa Bomboli who was unavoidably absent, and the People of Koya Chiefdom, he expressed deep delight to both the Management of ENGIM and the Port Loko District Health Management Team for the remarkable intervention. He assured that the Facilities will be utilised for the intended purpose and preserved so that Children yet unborn shall also benefit from the generosity of the Italian Cooperation. The Ceremony was climaxed by cultural and traditional performances. You now have the opportunity to have a glance at some of the photos obtained at the occasion to help you visualise how it went out there………