Healthcare for Yiben is a major project that will impact many lives. This fundamental right has become a reality through Mallam’s vision and drive and the commitment of the community to bring their government’s services to themselves. Healthcare for Yiben also brings healthcare to more than 1000 people in 16 neighbouring communities.
The project got off to a wonderful start on 11th September, 2015 when ‘the Welcoming Village’ invited all the neighbouring villages to be part of the proposal. The people of Yiben hosted a formal meeting that gave everyone a voice, generated great enthusiasm and support, and was followed with celebrations into the night.
In the following weeks and months, with Mallam’s support and co-ordinating efforts, an Executive Healthcare Committee was elected with a representative from each village. Population data for each village was collated, the location and construction of the building was planned, land was donated, the site cleared and building plans were drawn up. A power saw was purchased, an operator was engaged to cut timber and upskill some local lads, mud bricks were produced by every village, sand and gravel was dug and carried to the site and materials including cement and reinforcing steel were carried in.
In mid-February the contracted builder, Farner Kamara and his community workforce began constructing the clinic. As planned, the zincalume roof was on by the end of March, before the wet season set in, and rendering completed in July. By early September 2016, the building was finished – a secure, national-standard facility, immediately recognisable as a health clinic. It was the talk of two chiefdoms and, along with their school, the pride of the community.
UNICEF-approved toilets were added and a rainwater tank was carried in and installed. The chainsaw was again put to work to make furniture – tables, chairs benches and a storage cupboard.
A milestone had been reached!
In Sept 2017, Members of the S4LA team visited Yiben to help celebrate the achievements and strengthen the service connections. It was a heartwarming and successful trip. The facilities were approved by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation as a Maternal and Child Health Post, and some outreach services began.
A long delay in deploying staff followed – exacerbated by elections, a change in government and changes to the structure and roles within the MoHS. During this time, the S4LA-funded motor boat came into service and birthing rooms were added to the clinic. Finally, in January 2019, two permanent nurses took up their postings and full-time national services began.
Another milestone had been reached!
Pioneers of healthcare for Yiben, Nurses Adama Barrie and Tenneh Manseray both speak the local language and have been happily embraced by the community.
Yiben is officially included in the national staffing, medical supply chain and referral system. The women of this area now birth in a clinic – their own local clinic under the care of trained midwives and supported by the traditional birth attendant from their own communities.
The nurses deliver maternal and child services, family planning support, national immunisation and prevention programs, treatments for common ailments – particularly malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea, and referral services.
The clinic is overseen by the Community Health Officer at the Fadugu Health Centre under the District Medical Team.
Sustainable services and improved facilities…
Healthcare for Yiben is an ongoing project with special focus on the most vulnerable groups with highest mortality rates – pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under 5.
The clinic staff and community have Mallam’s ongoing commitment and support. S4LA continues to support maintenance and improvements and provides a monthly budget for essentials not provided by the government.
During 2019 Yiben was chosen as the winner of a much-needed, solar-powered vaccine fridge generously donated and shipped to Freetown by the Welsh manufacturers, Dulas. S4LA covered the remaining costs to installation.
In 2020, separate nurses’ accommodation and a water well at the clinic have been completed. In addition the clinic and the accommodation have been tiled throughout. This has been another mammoth effort for Mallam and the community, requiring huge amounts of sand, cement and tiles to be brought to the site. It brings the facilities up to current national standard, a surprising sight to see in this isolated place.
“How have you achieved this miracle?” someone recently asked Mallam.