BEYOND THE GREAT WALL; The China I heard about and the China I have seen

How Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones Are Driving China’s Economic and Social Development And Lessons Liberia Can Learn

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye, Monrovia, Liberia

 

In the past 30 years, China has achieved phenomenal economic growth, an unprecedented development “miracle” in human history. Since the institution of its reforms and Open Door policy in 1978, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) has been growing at an average annual rate of more than 9 percent (figure 1). In 2010, it became the world’s second-largest economy, according to World Bank..

Though I am not an economist, during my 10-month stay in China, I found out that the creation of industrial parks and economic zones is the driving force behind this success.

The success comes by collective efforts by central and local officials in opening up to the world while attracting partners and investments in ensuring dreams come to reality.

We, 28 journalists from 27 African countries on 2016 media fellowship, toured many industrial parks and economic zones in China.

The Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou, Jiangsu provincial, the Sci-Tech Industrial Park of Gaungzhou University of Chinese Medicine in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province and other economic zones including the Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone in Shanghai.

However, I admired the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) because we visited it twice. And it indicates that China’s opening up policy in this sector is working.

In April 2016, we (Africa journalists) visited Suzhou, such as Suzhou Industrial Park, Higer Bus, SJEC Elevator, Suzhou Classical Gardens, Kunqu Opera House, Suzhou Embroidery Institute, Kunshan Economic Zone, as well as Zhouzhuang Water Village.

In addition, we were invited to cover the events of Coordinators’ Meeting on Implementation of Follow-up Actions of Johannesburg Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in July.

As part of this event, we also went along with African delegates to visit the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP).

SIP is a joint initiative by China and Singapore, thus bearing the name “China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park”

Accelerating the optimization of the industrial structure

Authorities of the park told us that SIP voluntarily grasps the new normal of the economy and accelerates the transformation of the method of economic development. The total number of projects attracting foreign investment has exceeded 5,600. The actual utilization of foreign capital reaches over 29 billion US dollars. A total of 93 Fortune 500 companies have invested in 154 projects in SIP, forming an industry cluster with certain competitiveness in electronic information, machinery manufacturing and etc. The proportion of the output of hi-tech industry and new industry on the total above-scale industrial output has reached 67% and 59% respectively. The output of three major emerging industries, namely bio-medicine, nanotechnology applications and cloud computing industry has maintained a rapid average growth of 30% annually. The service economy is booming, with the value added output of the service industry and the culture industry taking 42.5% and 7.1% of the GDP in 2015 respectively.  There have been a total of 70 accredited projects of headquarters of all levels, and over 700 financial institutions gathered in SIP. A regional highland of financial center is forming rapidly.

Continue to improve the well-being of the people

Another thing I observed at SIP is that people-oriented and people’s livelihood as top priority has always been put in a prominent position.

Great efforts have been taken to improve people’s livelihood. With regional integration as the goal, there has been steady progress in the reform of replacing the town with sub-district, and accelerated implementation in the urban renewal plans of the old town. The establishment of special funds to enrich the people has been explored, so as to achieve the full coverage of the low marginal households.

For the coordination of the causes of education, health care, old age, social security and culture, a “full coverage, multi-level” social security system has been established.

With the comprehensive merger of the urban and rural social security, the integration of urban and rural social security system has been achieved.

The experimental project of social management cooperation between China and Singapore has been carried out in depth, and the innovation of social governance has been strengthened. A new community service management system has been established, based on the neighborhood centers, community service centers and community clubs. SIP has been honored as “National Experimental Zone of Community Management and Service Innovation” and “National Demonstration District of Harmonious Community Building”.

Lessons Liberia can learn

Since the resumption of diplomatic relations, China and Liberia have been increasing bilateral operations in recent years.

Special economic zones are geographically designated trade areas that are used to attract foreign investors and boost industrialization. They generally have trade laws that differ from the rest of the country and companies are offered tax incentives to set up operations.

One may say Liberia does not have the economic backing and facilities to set up economic zones. But its better to start something. There is a saying that “where there is no vision, the people perish”.

For Liberia, setting up special economic zones can boost the diversification its economy and promote manufacturing.

China’s experiences indicate that for zones to succeed, African governments must improve infrastructure and technology and have an educated and competent labor force as well as efficient and effective administration.

China introduced special economic zones in the 1970s as part of its policy to open up to international trade. Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms became the turning point towards a market-oriented economy. A series of experiments, including the establishment of special economic zones, became the driving force for growth.

This inspired African countries and became the rationale to establish Chinese led-SEZs in Egypt, Mauritius, Nigeria, Zambia and Ethiopia in the mid-2000s. More African countries are planning to establish special economic zones. In South Africa, the Special Economic Zones Act was passed recently and ten were selected.

If these countries are moving forward, Liberia can be inspired. This is the win-win situation that China aims to achieve with Africa, benefiting all sides.

China set up zones in Southern coastal areas as part of the economic reforms under the open door policy. They were very successful and led to unprecedented growth. Shenzhen, a small fishing town, became the first special economic zones. It is now the most prominent manufacturing hub on the globe. When I was told Shenzhen was a small fishing town few years ago I could not believe. This is because it has turned into also a municipality as you see high rise buildings with road networks and it is highly industrialized.

Also, in many cases, policy makers in Africa have not set up long term plans and there is a lack of consultation with local communities. Therefore, it is important to take in any plans intended to growth and development.

An industrial park (also known as industrial estate, trading estate) is an area zoned and planned for the purpose of industrial development. An industrial park can be thought of as a more “heavyweight” version of a business park or office park, which has offices and light industry, rather than heavy industry. It is clear why China incorporated such an initiative in its economic reforms.

China’s economic reforms termed “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that was started in December 1978 by reformists within the Communist Party of China, led by Deng Xiaoping.

 

 

BEYOND THE GREAT WALL: The China I Heard About, The China I have Seen

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

 

My Experience In Covering China’s Political Activities

It is being viewed in other parts of the world that there is no democracy in China because there is only one-party rule.

The Chinese government, in consultation with the people, has been maintaining its cultural heritage for 5,000 unbroken years, thus making it difficult for any nation to make it fall.

“We learn from our ancestors, and if anyone wants to destroy China, you must destroy our culture first; which is very difficult,” said Mr Jin Canrong, Professor and Associate Dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China (RUC) told one of our lecture classes.

Many Chinese including analysts say it will be a disaster if multiplicity of parties is allowed for such a country that has nearly 1.4 billion human beings, noting that there will be millions of political parties with diverse political views. And many opposing political views will not help China because of the population, adding, “Any attempt to do that will make China to fall”.

Above all, the Chinese are satisfied with the Government, as evident by views of citizens in 32 cities and towns I visited in 12 provinces. Focus of their conversations is on how the world can learn from China about development and creating peaceful environment.

There is a high level of nationalism by the Chinese, and as such, experts, scholars and prominent figures as well as enterprises in the Chinese public diplomacy have founded a non-government organization called the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA); the sponsor of the exchange programs of African journalists in China.

China is a very large country, large population; but growth in all of its sectors, has been described as the best way to address human rights.

Political leaders say the country alone cannot be making progress, and so they have decided to strengthen relations with the world; thus paying more attention to Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and other international organizations.

Now that China is moving fast, the question is what lesson African leaders and citizens can learn if the continent must improve.

Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.37 million square km (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers six percent of Earth‘s total surface area and 20.2 percent of its total land area. With 1.1 billion people as of 2013, it accounts for about 15% of the world’s human population.  It contains 54 fully recognized sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition, the continent with the world’s highest number of countries.

Due to such partitions by colonial masters and with countries having individual sovereignty, it is impossible for Africa to unite like China.

But Africans have to learn from China to foster economic growth and development; and the political will must be holistic and patriotic.

Diverse and opposing political ideologies, masterminded by external forces have been keeping Africa behind.

Besides, the Communist Party of China (CPC) is represented all over the country, working with other local officials to ensure development projects are implemented according to the aspirations of the citizens.

 

 

 

BEYOND THE GREAT WALL: the China I heard about, the China I have seen

Social

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

 

There was a man who suspected his neighbor of stealing his ax. All of the time this man viewed his neighbor as a thief after his (the man) ax went missing.

Fortunately, the ax was found with another neighbor who had borrowed it; and the borrower apologized.

Though the ax was found, the owner could not have peace in mind due to the suspicion he had found against the innocent. So it came a time that he could no longer hold the guilt in his mind. Therefore, he called everyone in the village to confess and apologize to his neighbor.

This goes to say that you will not understand your friend better until you learn and know who he or she is and so it is with China and other parts of the world including Liberia. Chinese have been hearing many negative things about Africa, and so Africans.

Despite reading about and knowing about the People’s Republic of China, there are several perceptions about the China I had subscribed to until my 10-month media fellowship to the country in 2016.

Therefore, let me confess that, after my deep understanding of the country, I realized that most of the perceptions, especially negative, are found against the world’s second major but fastest growing economy.

Generally, I have understood that Chinese do everything with their characteristics to suit the society following their cultural revolution. And the system is working well, though with continuous reforms. However, today I will give you my experience on the social aspects of Chinese and how I see them.

Are Chinese people friendly?

It depends on how you define the word “friendly”. There are nearly 1.4 billion Chinese, who are ethnically and culturally grounded. So varied and numerous it is difficult to generalize on something as broad and open to interpretation as “friendly”.

Having visited 32 cities and towns in 12 provinces in urban and rural China, I found out that there are certainly a lot of people who are very hospitable-friendly and mannered. I met and made a lot of friends in China.

We were 28 African journalists on the media fellowship hosted by the China-Africa Press Center (CAPC) in Beijing, sponsored by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA). We received warm receptions any part of China we visited-some on our own. Many Chinese were anxious to establish friendship with us. Some got more closer to compliment Mandarin “Ni hao,” meaning “hi” in Chinese. Other will go further by teaching you the Mandarin “ni shi na guo ren?” meaning what is your nationality in Chinese.

From the perceptions I had, I was shocked to see many Chinese oozing with goodwill and smiles having seen foreigners.  One of my Chinese friends told me that based on Confucianism, the entire culture is about manners and respect. At some points, I was treated to nice cups of tea, with the introduction of the Chinese tea culture.

I could see the smile on the face of every journalist I meet in China. He or she could not hesitate to express happiness for my being in his or her country.

Three colleagues and I were assigned with the People’s Daily Online English (en.people.com.cn) in Beijing for affiliation as part of the fellowship to experience Chinese media. At People’s Daily, I was working with a team like I was at the In Profile Daily in Monrovia. Contrary to views journalist reports are sometimes ignored, I can state that all of my reports were published. Editor Wu Chengliang could not waste time in publishing articles and stories from me even up to now.

Yes, China now has become one of the most popular destinations in the world because of friendliness. This contributes to the rapid growth and development of China’s tourism industry.

After visiting some tourism and cultural sites in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Haikou and Wuhan, among others, I discovered the booming industry due to the hospitality of the Chinese attracting millions of foreign tourists. May be the cities are commercial, but I really hope you pay a visit to China. China is a country with more than 5,000 years of history so you could not imagine how the oriental civilization will be till you see the scenes yourself.

More interestingly, Chinese are in high gear learning English and other foreign languages so as to reduce the language barriers that have impeded the their understanding with the outside world. Now I have strong friendship with officials and staff at the China-Africa Center (CAPC)in Beijing. These are Chinese graduates and interns who have studied, are studying English, French and other foreign Languages. Their friendliness helps to assist fellows at CAPC for the effectiveness of the fellowship.

I rode on Beijing subway (train) on many occasions, visiting Liberian students, Embassy and other friends. Many Chinese could not waste time in establishing friendship with me in the train. To make the friendship, we exchange WeChat contacts, through which we were, and continue to communicate today. This is how I can boast that going to China anytime will be like going home. Also, I visited some communities in Beijing where I met and established friendship with many Chinese.

In this light, I see Chinese are in line with the opening up policies being implemented by the government. They are also willing to work and stay in any part of the world.

Undoubtedly, we can embrace the China friendship to live its dream to have a developed world through win-win situation for mutual understanding that leads to growth and development, not recolonization as may be perceived. With China as one of our partners, I am of the belief that we are moving forward.

 

China and Africa had misunderstood one another in the third party (media) until leaders on two sides decided to foster a friendship some years ago, leading to the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000. The China-Africa Press Center was established under the people-to-people contacts component to allow for Chinese and African journalists to engage in exchange activities by visiting and experiencing Africa and China.

Fredrick P. W. Gaye is the Editor for News & Editorial Services  at In Profile Daily and a 2016 fellow of the China-Africa Press Center (CAPC) in China . He can be reached at: fgaye.inprofile@gmail.com / +231880650176/+231777083584

 

 

 

 

BEYOND THE GREAT WALL; the China I heard about, the China I have seen: My Experience In Covering China’s Political Activities

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

There is an adage in Liberia that: “When you are not inside, you never know.” And this is exactly the case with people’s perceptions about China in other parts of the world. I must admit that the reality on ground is different from negative perceptions about the world’s most populous country.

Let me be quick to note that, not all is well in China because it is a developing economy whose government is faced with the challenge to deliver certain portion of the population out of poverty by 2020.

As the Africa-China Relations initiative claims the world’s attention, the question that lingers is, what lessons African leaders and even the citizens themselves can learn from the fast economic growth and development of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

With its population of nearly 1.4 billion, covering a land area of 9.6 million square km, I see China political collaboration and consultations as unique working well to maintain peace and harmony.

China is under the rule of the Communist Party of China (CPC); but improved coordination and consultations are a hallmark by leaders of steering the affairs of the country, as every player, one way or the other, demonstrates nationalism.

I am among twenty African journalists on a 10-month media fellowship at the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) in Beijing in 2016. I arrived few days to the opening of the Country’s annual political sessions: The National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultation Conference (CPPCC) in March.

We were accredited to cover the two events which claimed the attention of the world, as evidenced by the widest coverage in my life so far. Local and foreign journalists at the events were estimated at about 3,500, who nearly filled the Great Hall of the People (Parliament chambers) to capacity.

Inside the chambers, any strange persons including me wondered how such a big country with large population and diverse cultures is being governed with one-party system without noise. I though there was going to be dissenting views following the opening sessions, judging from the Liberian experience; but members of the two sessions conducted the events with cordiality.

It was a great experience on March 3, 2016, when the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee, Mr. Yu Zhengsheng delivered reports on the 2015 work of the Committee at its Fourth Session opening ceremony.

CPPCC is a political advisory body in China. It consists of delegates from a range of political parties and organizations, as well as independent members. The proportion of representation of the various parties is determined by established conventions, negotiated between the parties.

In practice, the largest and dominant party in the Conference is the Communist Party of China which has about one third of the seats. Other members are drawn from the United Front parties allied with the CPC, and from independent members who are not members of any party. The Conference is intended to appear to be more representative and is composed of a broader range of people than is typical of government office in the Country.

CPPC is a patriotic united front organization led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). It is made up of deputies from the CPC, eight non-CPC parties, non-party democrats and people’s organizations, deputies from various minority nationalities and from all walks of life, and Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao compatriots and returned overseas Chinese, as well as specially invited people.

In the committee report, Yu outlined that deepening reform took place in 2015, with the implementation of major policies.

Major among them was ensuring proper understanding of the CPPCC in order to maintain a correct political direction, adhering to structure of deliberations to make political consultations more fruitful; strengthening the CPPCC functions of the democratic oversight by adhering to a problem-oriented approach and promoting ethnic unity and religious harmony to bring together the will and strength of the people.

Touching of China’s foreign relations, Yu said the the committee strengthened foreign contacts to develop a favorable external environment for China’s development.

He also used the occasion to present the Committee’s five-year plan which started this year.

My coverage at the Parliament continued on March 5, 2016, during the opening of fourth session of NPC, where Premier (Prime Minister) Li Keqiang, reported on the work of the government in 2015.

China experienced major boost in economy, with its GDP reached at 67.7 trillion yuan, representing an increase of 6.9% over the previous year; a growth Mr. Li termed as rare faster than most of the major economies in the world.

He reported that a high rate of economic development was maintained and living standards improved.

The Chinese Premier also used the occasion to outline plans for the government in 2016,

It was a colorful ceremony as deputies (members of the Parliament), and following the two events heads of various ministries and agencies giving their reports at press conferences and in sessions.

NPC is the lawmaking and supreme organ of state power and deputies (lawmakers) to the NPC are elected by the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government, and by the armed forces. Candidates for deputies to the people’s congress at various levels are nominated on the basis of electoral districts or electoral units. The political parties and various people’s organizations may either jointly or separately recommend candidates for deputies.

The multiplicity of political parties and delivering for the people, which one matters? To be continued…

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Shielding “Dictatorial African” President Nguema: Semblance Of Media Censorship …Cllr. Gongloe Condemns Journalist’s Arrest

By T. Michael Johnny, Macpherson Marbiah

Human Right lawyer Cllr Tiawon Gongloe has strongly condemn the arrest and subsequent detention and release of New Democrat Senior Editor, Festus Poquie by the government.

The Human Rights lawyer said he usually goes to court in defence of journalists, but said the frequency of his representation in court is not yielding the type of result he expects in his advocacy.

Cllr. Gongloe stressed that his resolve is to deter the government from further arresting journalists performing their scared duty, stating that Liberia has a democracy and the constitution also obliged the protection of freedom of speech and information.

The New Democrat in its publication culled from the British Mail newspaper reported that Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of being cannibal who allegedly skins enemies alive and eats their testicles.

Addressing a major press conference at the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) headquarters in Monrovia Thursday September 15, 2016, Cllr. Gongloe described as “big shame” on government to detain the journalist for exposing what is currently happening in another sisterly African country.

Cllr. Gongloe: “It is grossly undemocratic that citizens undergoing massive suffering at the hands of their leader can irritate the government to arrest journalist Poquie also implies government’s approval of what is happening in Equatorial Guinea.”

“I find myself here and feel compelled in the interest of Liberia to help stop this evil that the government keeps doing. The government has said that it is a friend of the press, the government through the President has won several awards, even African journalists have given awards to the President with affirmation that she was a friend of journalist,” he said.

Cllr. Gongloe said the arrest of Journalist Poquie is intended to intimidate him and serve as deterrence to other journalists who he said are performing excellently and fearlessly to be afraid of government not to report, write or speak the truth to their taste in educating society, noting that the government is wrong in this action.

He opined that the government has always being wrong, but said: “this one is so terrible that for a brutal dictator who everyone knows that he is killing people in his country and the information on the internet was what Festus Poquie wrote is despicable.”

The Human Rights lawyer said the arrest of journalist Poquie clearly shows that government does not have the political will to change the anti-speech laws, noting that it is only pretending to the international community because of the aids received or wants to get from the international community.

“They are only pretending, they do not have the political will because there is no way  you can have the political will and then try to change anti-speech laws to decriminalize speech and then at the same time arrest people for speaking,” he said.

The erudite legal luminary said the government is currently doing censorship and want to decide what media institutions or journalists should report, stressing that he is ashamed because it was not the purpose of President Sirleaf’s campaign.

“I can say without fear that had she not order the arrest of Festus Poquie, it would not have happen, and no amount of aid is worth scarifying our dignity and freedom in this country. We should never compromise our dignity and liberty,” he said.

Cllr. Gongloe elated that the dignity and liberty of any individual is higher than any authority in Liberia, stressing that it is what Liberia is and every Liberian should fight for is to be consistent with the law.

“This man took power in 1979 after killing his uncle and even though his country is one of the richest countries in Africa, it has some of the poorest people on the continent as well, simply because he is not sharing money. We have heard what his son is doing around the world, spending money as if it is water,” he said.

He asserted that the war that was fought in the country was not because of tribalism or religious difference, but because of bad governance, stressing that the menace is still happening in the society.

Cllr Gongloe continued: “I cannot just understand what happened today that a journalist writing for a newspaper write about a dictatorial leader in another African country and our government gets angry and arrest that journalist, I just cannot understand it, so I do not think that going to court to represent that journalist is sufficient in terms of dealing with what government has done.

“I came here to express solidarity with the journalist and everyone of you, I stand by your side, but I think that we should have a greater civil society force working with political parties to put an end to this, because those opposition leaders who are not shocked by this kind of development are people we should be concerned about,” said Cllr. Gongloe

Cllr Gongloe: “I have said before and right after leaving government noted that our president, a democratic leader is befriending a dictatorial leader in Africa speaks volume of unforeseen circumstances; it means that we should all be alert and should act out of the box.”

For his part, the Press Union of Liberia President K. Abdullai Kamara also condemned government’s action and said the arrest of Journalists Poquie undermines freedom of speech and information.

 

 

Major Reshuffle!   -Pro Tyler Lawmakers Affected

 

Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue has carried out a major reshuffle in Statutory Committee Heads and Deputies at the House of Representatives.

Making new appointments Tuesday in Plenary, Deputy Speaker Barchue noted that these appointments were as a result of a communication written by Representative Samuel Kogar and a decision taken by that body in line with Rule 54 of the House Standing Rules.

Those appointed are Representatives Prince Moye and Jeremiah Koung, Chairman and Co-chairman on the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance, Budget and Development Planning, once chaired by Representative Moses Y. Kollie and Sekou Kanneh.

Representative Worlea Saywah Dunah was appointed as the new Chairman on the Judiciary Committee replacing Bomi County Representative Garyah Karmoh.

Deputy Speaker Barchue also appointed Representative Thomas Fallah and Edward Karfiah as Chairman and Co-chairman on the Public Account Committee, replacing Representative Ben Fofana and Mariamu Fofana.

Another committee is the Committee on State Own Enterprises now Chaired by Representative Garrison Yealu, replacing Representative Zoe Emmanuel Pennoh.

Deputy Speaker however retained Representative Jeh Byron Brown as Chairman on Rules, Order and Administration but however appointed Representative Bill Twehway as Co-chairman.

It can be recalled that Representative Kogar on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, wrote the Plenary through Deputy Speaker Barchue, complaining that several committees in the Lower House were not functioning properly thus impeding the smooth operations of the House of Representatives.

“As you will be aware, the House runs its activities through committees and their non-performance has hindered the effective and efficient operations of that body,” Kogar’s communication noted.

In keeping with Rules 54.2, Kogar craved Plenary’s decision to mandate the Presiding officer to replace all Chair and Co-chair persons to Committees that have ceased to function and thereafter make necessary changes to enhance proper functioning of the House.

Those Committees mentioned by Representative Kogar are the Judiciary, State Enterprise, Foreign Affairs, Public Account, Commerce, Contract and Monopoly, Agriculture, Ways, Means Finance, Budget and Development Planning, Defense and Executive.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Barchue disclosed that other subsequent appointments will be made next Tuesday, assuring the appointments will cut across so as not to create division in that body.

 

Pregnant Women At Risk In Rural Mont. ….As Liberia Fights Maternal Mortality

 

Investigation conducted has revealed that public health centers in most parts of Rural Montserrado County are struggling to make impressive marks in the fight against increase in maternal mortality cases reported in Liberia.

Maternal mortality is a pregnancy-related death and is referred to as “death of a woman” during pregnancy or within one year following the end of pregnancy.

An independent survey unearthed that out of three major health facilities in Rural Montserrado County, only one has a maternal waiting home, which women in those  areas predict as major  threats in the fight to reduce maternal deaths.

Maternal waiting homes are residential facilities, located near qualified medical centers, where women categorized as “high risk” can await delivery or transferred to a nearby medical facility shortly before delivery or earlier if complications arise.

The construction of such homes near every public health facility within hard – to -reach communities could be one of the surest means to save the lives of pregnant women and the babies during delivery, but the availability of the facility are seemingly unavailable in most places across Liberia.

According to health reports, Liberia now has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the sub-region and that during the pre-Ebola era, Liberia had 1,072 live deaths out of every 100,000 birth, which was stated in the 2013 Liberia Demographic and Health Survey (LDHS). This is evidence; according to medical sources are indicators of non-improvement from 770 out of 100,000 live births in 2007.

Maternal waiting homes, according to some health personnel must be built in every rural city considering Liberia’s high mortality rate, which has resulted from a struggling health system over the years.

Due to the importance of Maternal waiting home, the In Profile Daily freelancer investigated key public health facilities in rural Montserrado County, which included the Bensonville, Johnsonville and the Harrisburg Health Centers.

Importantly, the investigation was necessitated due to the remoteness of these areas and considering the risk it poses to pregnant women in these areas, usually under intense conditions, which compels them to travel long distances in search of medical care.

For her, the Maternal Child Health (MCH) Supervisor at the Bensonville Hospital Albertha Kortie revealed that maternal waiting home is not available at the hospital and believes that its construction will address the health needs of over 15-20 pregnant women who visit their medical center daily.

She regretted two maternal deaths at the hospital, which the Bensonville Hospital Supervisor attributed due to delay by the families of the deceased, noting that their death could have been prevented if there was a maternal waiting home in the area.

Madam Kortie then requested the donation of a Land Rover jeep as an ambulance to the hospital, stressing that it would be timely because of the inaccessible road to these rural areas, which is hampering the free movement of the only ambulance in the area.

In another interview, Sando Gayflor a Registered Nurse (RN) at the Johnsonville Community Health Center also sounded that the construction of a maternal waiting home in the township is exceptionally vital to the survival of women in the area, noting that its availability would have prevented the loan maternity death at the center recently.

She also appealed for the construction of staff quarter to allow nurses reside overnight if these deaths must be reduced or curtailed.

For her part, the Officer in Charge (OIC) at the Harrisburg Medical Center Menikili Paye, via mobile phone confirmed the construction and operation of the only maternal waiting home in the area.

According to her, it was constructed by Save The Children in 2012 along with two bedroom staff quarter, which is enabling nurses to conduct 24 hours service at the health center.

She told this reporter that its construction is yielding positive results on grounds that rural women in Harrisburg and parts adjacent have seen the facility as their own, which results to less than 10 deliveries outside of the center every year since 2012.

With regards to her communication strategy to encourage more women take advantage of the center, Madam Paye told this paper that she works alongside traditional midwives, providing them health talks once every month.

“The midwives are well informed about the number of pregnant women reported in their control areas— midwives take interest in these cases and immediately consult the clinic and together we take charge of the women to avoid deaths,” said Madam Paye.

Despite the intended success, however, she complained of lack of electricity at the health center, which she stressed: “The situation usually compels nurses to conduct deliveries with candles and touch lights, while the poor ambulance services being experienced often compel us to contact a nearby private clinic at the government’s power plant in the case of referrer.”

“The lack of motivation at the Harrisburg Community Clinic is hindering operations. These include transportation, rain gears, phone cards, soap, hand sanitizers and many others needed medical materials”. She explained.

Only identified as Princess, a pregnant woman in rural Montserrado County said she’s convinced that if maternal waiting homes are constructed in the area, the lives of babies and their mother would be saved.

Statements collected form these rural health facilities as well as pregnant women suggest that the Liberian Government has  remarkably strive to improve Liberia’s health facilities over the years , but an increase in international support will play a more strategic role in curbing maternal deaths across the country.

Follow-up carried out at the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Congo Town could not be concluded because the personnel responsible could not be reached as he had been away for a remarkable period.

However, chapter  III Article 11.a) of the Liberian Constitution, article III of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) and chapter six of the International Convection on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)  ratified by Liberia in 2004,support the right to life by every person regardless of his / her status.

These provisions embraced by the government can further be achieved if the international community and the MOH exert additional efforts to construct maternal waiting homes in hard –to –reach communities.