The lack of accessible roads in Middle Bush Santo did not deter the commitment of 12 men from Forchenal Village, who persevered to carry a pregnant mother and walk for eight hours to the nearest health center.

The Chief of Forchenal Village, Suery Matavusi, shared that on Thursday last week, a young pregnant mother from the village went to labour but had difficulty delivering her baby at the Village Aid Post, so the village health worker had to refer her to the nearest health center at Sele. Chief Matavusi said at dawn on Sunday, the 12 men carried the young pregnant mother and walked for eight hours to Sele Health Center. Sele Health Center is located 18 kilometers from Forchenal Village.

“It has been raining last week and we carried the mother on a sack, across thick mud that went as high as our knees. We climbed hills and cross flooded rivers to reach Sele Health Center,” Matavusi said. He said on late Sunday afternoon, the men reached Sele Health Center where the young mother was able to deliver her baby safely. “When we reached Sele, the nurse said the mother was lucky we brought her quickly to the clinic, we could have lost her along the way or at the village if she stayed a little longer,” he said.

“The lack of accessible roads is a long time challenge for us. And this is not the first time we carry a pregnant mother with difficult labour to the health center. We have had many similar cases, at one time a mother delivered her baby safely along the way but the mother died before we could reach the health centre.”

Matavusi said last year, the communities in Middle Bush Santo presented a petition to the Minister of Agriculture who visited Sele Health Center, but until today the community has never received a response to their petition. He said the health worker at Forchenal was able to call for the Northern Provincial Hospital’s ambulance to get the mother to Luganville, but the ambulance never went.

“Luckily, the nurse at Sele was able to work with her and the mother delivered her baby safely or we would have lost her,” he said. The chief added that mobile coverage is also a huge challenge in the area and people find it difficult to communicate during emergencies.