The ICRC continues to lend a helping hand to the health sector in the northern and southern parts of Liberia to re-establish a well-functioning health system at primary level for improved access to basic health care for the population.
On 12 March 2007, the ICRC opened an additional clinic in Lofa county. The Kpotomai clinic takes to eight the number of ICRC constructed and supported health structures in the county.
The organization also distributed 5,500 mosquito nets to Duogomai, Bondi, Voinjama, Vezala in Voinjama district and Popalahun, Kamatahun and Lukasu in Kolahun district of Lofa county. The long-lasting insecticide-treated family nets were distributed to pregnant women, children under five, staff working in the clinic, vulnerable people and traditional midwives. The mosquito nets will help families to protect themselves against mosquito bites that are the source of malaria, which kills thousands of people every year.
Due to the lack of specialized health structures in certain areas of Liberia, and the difficulty encountered by many patients to reach the capital city Monrovia, the ICRC has transported 17 patients needing special care from Harper to Monrovia where they underwent a maxillo-facial and plastic reconstructive surgery at the Mercy Ship Hospital. An additional 12 patients were also transported from Grand Kru to Merlin Hospital in Harper for eye surgery by the International Charity Sight Savers.
Over 120 traditional midwives who received six months of training organized by the ICRC and the Ministry of Health graduated in Kamatahun. A second group of traditional midwives started a refresher course in the Vezela and Behwen clinics of Lofa and Grand Kru counties.
Civilians suffer the highest casualties during war. They are the most vulnerable and therefore require protection. The ICRC is providing local farmers in the Voinjama and Kolahun districts of Lofa County with agricultural tools and rice seeds purchased from local traders through a voucher system, swapped against butter rice with local farmers.
At the beginning of March 2007, the voucher system covered more than 4,600 beneficiaries from 42 villages. A total of 215 metric tonnes of butter rice was exchanged against rice seeds.
Also in March, tools distributions took place in different villages of Grand Kru county as the ICRC launched its new community-based micro-economic initiatives programme. In the same month, the ICRC began supporting: two swamp rehabilitations, two community cassava grinders, two pepper farms, one fish pond development and one community cassava farm.
The ICRC also provided 20 blankets and 10 mats to the Voinjama central prison of Lofa county for the use of detainees in order to continue its support for the improvement of detention conditions.
Water and habitat
The ICRC continues to address the water and sanitation needs of the most vulnerable people of Lofa and Grand Kru counties as well as those on the outskirts of Monrovia. The ICRC assists these people through the construction and rehabilitation of wells and latrines, hygiene awareness campaigns and water committee and pump mechanic training.
Since the beginning of 2007, the organization worked on 111 wells and 105 latrines to the benefit of an estimated 25,000 people. The ICRC implements its activities in cooperation with the communities to enhance the ownership and sustainability of the infrastructures.
The ICRC encourages communities to construct their own family latrines through joint partnership. The community erects the superstructure and provides all labour while the ICRC contributes with slabs and a roof. Today, more than 100 families have completed their own latrine in rural areas of Lofa and Grand Kru counties.
As in most rural areas, many wells are abandoned after the pump breaks down. To overcome this situation, the ICRC has been training communities in Lofa and Grand Kru to take responsibility for the maintenance of their wells and latrines. In this way, the communities will benefit longer from good quality drinking water and better hygiene.