The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: Sime Darby Refutes Diarrhea Outbreak - Amid Red Cross Interventions

Sime Darby Plantation Liberia (SDPL) Incorporated has dispelled media reports of an outbreak of diarrhea in the factory Camp area, Lofa Estate, Bomi County. Contrary to reports that "Diarrhea Outbreak Threatens Residents of Factory Camp" and "Diarrhea Outbreak Looms at Sime Darby," the company quotes Bomi County Health Officer, Dr. Rhoda Peters, as saying there is no outbreak of diarrhea in the plantations.

Dr. Peters said her office is not aware of any diarrhea outbreak; neither has her team received reports of a potential outbreak of such disease within the Factory Camp community, Sime Darby Plantation, Bomi County, according to SDPL. The Bomi County Health Officer added: "We would also like to reiterate that less than 1, 000 people live in the Factory Camp area, and not 4,500 as reported."

Sime Darby said it is equally concerned about the health situations of people living within its concession areas and thus, provides free health facilities for not just employees, but also members of surrounding towns and villages. The company disclosed that it has two equipped ambulances that collect sick persons from various camps and adjacent villages during emergency to a central health center or the nearest hospital. The release said to date, Sime Darby has constructed more than 57 hand pumps for communities within its current operational area, as a means of providing safe drinking water to community residents.

However, the Bomi County Chapter of the Liberian Red Cross says it is continuing intensive efforts to prevent further outbreak of diarrhea and running stomach in some of the vulnerable communities in Bomi.

It can be recalled that in December, the Red Cross carried out immediate distribution of water gourds and the chlorination of more than 50 wells following an outbreak of diarrhea in the county in which five of its project communities were affected badly.

A statement dated March 6 says as part of the latest effort to prevent any possible recurrence of diarrhea outbreak, the Red Cross has constructed and formerly dedicated pit latrines to two vulnerable communities, including Bogbeh and Gbadinkla in the Senjeh District of Bomi.

"We believe it was safe enough to help the communities construct the pit latrines to at least minimize the health threat in the environment", said Red Cross Bomi Field Officer Zinnah Quaye.

Speaking at the official dedication on Wednesday, the Red Cross Bomi field officer said the intervention was hugely based on the assessment report of opening defecations in the communities.

Quaye said the assessment also established that using the nearby bushes for toilet has, over the years, contaminated running water and polluted the air. He said the situation is most likely to cause people to suffer from running stomach, diarrhea and other health hazards in the communities.

According to him, the affected communities are still desperate and there is a need for more interventions to rehabilitating damaged wells and constructing additional ones as well as building more latrines to avoid any outbreak.

Describing diarrhea as a fast killer disease, the Red Cross field officer maintained that the issue of water and sanitation remains a huge challenge for the vulnerable communities. He stressed that the people are still drinking from running water and defecating openly around their own communities.

The Red Cross in Bomi is working in five communities, training and empowering community people on the repair of damaged wells and providing training on the management of water sources and latrine facilities as part of steps taken to promote community health care.

Commending the Red Cross, a man called Dean Elder Morris Abdullai joyfully remarked, "At least our children and us will now have somewhere to go to cease ourselves."

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