RURAL WOMEN DECRY THE HIGH COST OF ACCESSING HEALTH FACILITIES

Abdoulie G. Dibba
Women in the riverside village of Ballinghor in the Illiassa DistrictWoman in labour pain being transported on donkey cart to hospital
of North Bank Region (NBR) have decried the high cost of accessing the
nearest health facility in time when they are in labour pain or
seriously ill.Bintou Ceesay, a lactating mother with a four month old baby,
explained her experience when she was in labour pain last September
when the husband had to borrow D600 to pay a transport to take her to
the nearest health facility, Farafenni Hospital, which is some 11
kilometres away.

She disclosed this during a recent visit to the area by this reporter.
“This was during the lean period (hungry season) when there was little
left in the household and my husband was mainly preoccupied with
struggling to get food for the family,” said Mrs. Ceesay.

She said her husband is expected to repay the loan in the form of farm
produce after harvest.

“Part of the produce from my husband farm meant for the family’s
subsistence will be used to pay for the loan which he took in order to
rush me to hospital when I was in labour pangs,” she further
disclosed.
Mrs. Ceesay said this will to exacerbate the food insecurity
situation of the family.
The other women residing in the village also confirmed the
difficulties they experience when they are in need of attention or
treatment from health workers or hospital services and facilities.

Fatoumata Sabally explained how difficult it is for women in need of health services to walk from
Benlighor all the way to Farafeeni, and which she
added, is not uncommon especially if one does not have a donkey cart
at home or money to hire one.

“Due to the poor condition of the road, transports do not frequently
ply the area and in cases of emergencies one is compelled to hire a
vehicle or donkey cart if one has no means of transportation at home,”
she said.
She reiterated the expensive nature of hiring any means of
transportation from the village to the health facility.

“In the case of a pregnancy, it is very risky for one to be put on an
animal drawn cart and taken to hospital,” she noted.

Mrs. Sabally said she always hesitates to walk this 11 kilometres
bumpy and rugged road and through thick bush. “I always try to ride on
a donkey cart but sometimes it is difficult to get one and which
compels the person to walk this long distance on foot,” she lamented.

The women of Balinghor are therefore calling on the ministry of health
to look into their situation and assist them with an affordable means of
transportation to the nearest health facility considering the level of
poverty in the rural area particularly during the lean period.