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Low turnout at health facilities in Maryland

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Amid increasing cases of COVID-19 across Liberia, health institutions in Maryland County, southeast of the country are experiencing low turnout of patients, posing the probability of spreading the virus very high among the population.

County Health Team describes low turnout of residents as worrisome, especially in the wake of upsurge in the virus. County Health Promotion Focus person, Augusta Nugba said prefer self-medicating or being treated at their homes rather than going to health facilities, which has been providing services prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

She made the observation recently during a press conference in the county, noting the altitude of citizens and residents is causing health workers to live in fear over cases of the virus increasing in the public. She noted that since the coronavirus pandemic, people are out-rightly refusing to go to the health facilities for medication.

“Since the Coronavirus pandemic, we are expressing low turnout at all of our health facilities around the county. I strongly believe that many persons are afraid because of rumors circulating around that once you visit any health facility, medical practitioners will test you positive of the virus and this is not true”, she said.

“In fact, almost all of our pregnant women are even afraid and during pregnancy that is the best time to visit Hospital, as we always tell them.”
She said, common sicknesses like, cold, fever and headache were in existence prior to the COVID-19 and people are treated base on their conditions or problems they take to the health facilities adding, “But I really don’t understand why our people hold that fear.”

Martha Jayfin, a resident of Juluken #1, Barrobo expressed dissatisfaction about the pandemic and noted that most people are hesitant to visit Health Facilities in the County during illness for treatment because of fear.

She added that rumors and fear have permeated communities and residents about ways in which people contract the virus, something, she termed as worrisome.

Another resident of Harper City, Maryland County, John Harmon, said health practitioners at many health facilities in the county attributed the low turnout to citizens’ unwillingness to understand that the virus does not live in health centers. He stressed a need for more awareness to encourage citizens, including patients to continue to visit health facilities regularly.

Meanwhile, since an increase in the cases of COVID-19, health authorities in Maryland have been conducting several trainings for both health workers and community health teams to educate citizens on preventive measures prescribed by the Ministry of Health in Monrovia, while encouraging the make use of health facilities.

Maryland County Superintendent George Prowd, called for speedy intervention by health officials to avoid future embarrassment, saying if residents were adequately educated about the deadly pandemic, they would visit health facilities like they did prior to the outbreak.

Joint Security and local authorities of Maryland launched a mask wearing campaign on Monday, July 13, after confirmed COVID-19 cases in the coastal county hit 14 recently.

The Commander of Maryland County COVID-19 Task Force, Lincoln Wesseh, said the daily nose masks wearing enforcement followed rapid increase in new infections in Maryland, Grand Kru and River Gee counties, respectively. Commander Wesseh noted that in the absence of restricting citizens’ movement in the southeast, the best remedy is to making sure citizens traveling from one county to another abide by preventive measures prescribed by the Ministry of Health.

He said those measures could be effectively enforced if the Task Force worked closely with the Liberia National Police. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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