Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Mums, Babes Benefit from Health Clinic; Gympie Charity Sets Up in Sierra Leone

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Mums, Babes Benefit from Health Clinic; Gympie Charity Sets Up in Sierra Leone

Article excerpt

GYMPIE'S Set4Life Australia has celebrated the construction of a health clinic in a remote community in Sierra Leone, thanks to the support of Cooloola locals.

Three members of the charity's team recently visited the isolated village, for the opening ceremony of the Yiben Community Health Clinic.

The facility will provide basic health care for up to 1000 people in the remote area of the Koinadugu district in northern Sierra Leone.

Dozens of families came from surrounding communities to join the festivities, which marked two years of construction work.

Set4Life's Jude and Amy Coates, and Karen Blackburn, made the same trek into the village which locals used to haul construction materials, with no vehicle access.

"For us, it was a tough five-hour, mostly uphill hike, which culminated in a torch-lit river crossing in dugout canoes; one last long, steep climb, a very warm welcome - and then a massive downpour that had been brewing for hours," Jude said.

During construction, nearby communities helped to carry a poly tank, hundreds of bags of cement, steel reinforcing rods, ceiling sheets and zinc roofing through the jungle to the site.

The clinic is now approved as an official maternal and child health post, the first level of primary health care in the government system. Given that Sierra Leone has among the world's highest maternal and infant mortality rates, this is a national priority.

"Since our visit, a team of health workers have visited Yiben and conducted the first health checks for mums, babies and pregnant women. There was a great roll-up for this hectic two-day clinic. Record-keeping has begun and immunisation schedules are being brought up to date," Jude said.

The district medical officer is establishing permanent full-time services for the Yiben Clinic and the charity expects an on-site nurse, medical supply line and referral process will be in place within weeks. …

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