U.S. Ambassador Transfers New Health Center to Lofa County Officials

Ambassador Malac makes remark at the dedication program of the Barkedu Health Center as Superintendent George Dunor, Barkedu citizens and other members of the U.S. delegation look on.

Barkedu, Lofa County – U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac has officially handed over the keys to the new Barkedu Health Center, which was funded with U.S. Government support, to Lofa County Health Officer Dr. Joseph Bolongei.

During a ceremony, Ambassador Malac complimented county and local officials and members of the community for working to improve health care as well as combat Ebola, noting that “Lofa County has led the way in showing the rest of the country how to chase out Ebola from Liberia.”

Among those present at the handover January 22 were Lofa County Superintendent George S. Dunor, local officials, and community members.

“We extend our thanks to the American people for this gesture,” Superintendent Dunor said on behalf of the residents of Quardu Bondi District, who will benefit from the better-equipped facility.

The new Barkedu Health Center, constructed with U.S. Government support through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Rebuilding Basic Health Services (RBHS) program, is more than 2.5 times larger than the old clinic and will accommodate more staff and equipment to serve the more than 13,000 residents of Quardu Bondi District.

The former Barkedu Clinic was housed in a 922-square-foot building and had only eight staff members, hardly enough space or staff to serve Barkedu Town alone, and much less the entire district.

The facility – now upgraded from a clinic to a health center – was constructed with input and support from national and county health officials, and direct contributions from the community in the form of sand, gravel, water, and human resources.

Ambassador Malac and team receive a warm welcome from residents of Barkedu upon arrival.

The opening of the clinic is crucial to providing more comprehensive services– particularly for maternal and child health, and family planning. It also marks a period of recovery for the community, which was among the communities in Lofa County highly affected by the Ebola epidemic. The community in recent months has, however, taken the necessary steps to protect themselves against the epidemic, contributing to a dramatic decline in new cases.

“Indeed, we need to continue the fight, because when [Ebola] leaves, we don’t want it to come back,” Superintendent Dunor said, emphasizing the need for continued vigilance.  He also highlighted the commitment of members of the Muslim community, who he said, “have been with us in the fight” against Ebola.

The Barkedu Clinic is one of seven health facilities in Lofa and 40 facilities across the country renovated under the USAID’s RBHS project since 2010 at a total cost of over $3.7 million.  In addition to supporting infrastructure improvements, USAID is continuing to support the Ministry of Health in partnering with the International Rescue Committee to provide services in 42 out of 56 health facilities in Lofa County, including provision of medications, training, and management support to ensure access to safe, quality services.

Since 2008, the $69 million USAID-RBHS project has made a series of essential contributions toward restoring and improving the quality of health services in Liberia, and building both infrastructure and human capacity in the country’s health system.