Guinea – Insalubrity in health centres
Terre des hommes urges the State towards ‘conscience re-awakening’
Terre des hommes has just launched a project to improve the conditions of hygiene in seven health centres in Conakry. This intervention will greatly improve the quality of the healthcare given to 262,000 mothers and children. During the official project launch, the National Director of Public Hygiene, on behalf of the Minister for Health and Hygiene, called for ‘conscience awakening’ in the health facilities. He is particularly committed to making their motivation one of the main criteria for selecting the heads of health centres, and to seeing that measures are implemented to get the centres themselves to respect conditions of hygiene.
“The health centres get water only 2 to 3 times a week”
Since the Guinea delegation opened, Terre des hommes has been looking after children suffering from malnutrition and advising their mothers and families how to take care of them better with food adapted to each child’s age. The delegation intervenes within the communities as well as at the 15 health centres located in three districts of Conakry (Ratoma, Dixinn and Matoto). In the past few months Tdh has been tackling the problem of improving hygiene in seven centres in the Guinea capital, so as to get a better quality of care for the sick. These centres suffer from insufficient access to water: “The health centres get water only two to three times a week, and then only for a few hours, so they can neither care for their patients properly, nor clean the treatment rooms and equipment adequately”, deplores Mohamed Moustafa Sarr, head of Tdh’s “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene” project in Guinea. The latrines in the health centres are not properly functional or adapted, and they present a risk of contaminating the groundwater and thus the patients.
Urge the State to guarantee minimum standards
The objective of Terre des hommes is to encourage and support the Ministry for Public Health and Hygiene, as well as the general public, to ensure the minimum standards for health conditions, such as those worked out by the WHO (World Health Organisation). In addition to broadcasting messages about good diet, Tdh’s health agents and community leaders are getting down to the job of guaranteeing that the communities can benefit from good hygienic conditions (access to water, sanitation, and hygiene). In the seven health centres, the State, the Division of the city of Conakry, local collectives, and health personnel are all well informed about and involved in the improvement of conditions of hygiene in their health centres. Owing to everyone’s involvement, Tdh also guarantees that the new standards and infrastructures will be maintained and respected for a long time, thanks to the autonomy acquired during the whole project by the health centres. Each centre will have continuous access to drinking water, to improved services of sanitation, to systems for disinfection and cleansing, and the appropriate handling of waste material. All the patients and their attendants will also be made aware of issues regarding hygiene. By 2013, this project should have benefited the health of 262,000 expectant and breastfeeding mothers and children under five.
At the official launch of the project on January 13th, organised by the Health Management of Conakry, the heads of the seven health centres, the Communal Heads of Public Health and Hygiene in Ratoma and Dixinn, and the National Director of Public Hygiene, representing the Guinean Minister for Health, demonstrated their enthusiasm to implement this project. The National Director of Public Hygiene, on behalf of the Minister for Health and Hygiene, expressed the government’s satisfaction with the efforts made by Terre des hommes for the wellbeing of people in general and children in particular. He also called for “a reawakening of consciences on the part of healthcare facilities” and undertook to make the motivation of centre heads a true criteria for their selection. According to him, the principle criteria for assessing a healthcare facility is its level of cleanliness: “If you find that the environment of a health centre is dirty, you don’t need to look further… the quality of its treatment will be mediocre.” He then closed his speech by encouraging the responsibility of the heads of the health centres to improve the standard of hygiene in these facilities. “We can change – if we really want to.” He invited Tdh to closely go along with the Ministry of Health and Hygiene in its policy of promoting hygiene, by widening the area of intervention of its project.