U.S. Africa Command and State Department officials were greeted with energetic singing and dancing July 30 as they dedicated a renovated medical dispensary in northern Gabon.
U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer Major Natasha Hinds officially transferred the keys of the dispensary, which was constructed with AFRICOM Humanitarian Assistance funds, to the Ntem County Council.
“We strive to honor one of our cornerstones to ‘Support Humanitarian and Disaster Relief,’ and look forward to a continued partnership with the US Embassy and Government of Gabon to improve health facilities for its citizens and residents” Hinds said.
Ntem County Council Chairman Pierre Ngoua expressed the community’s sincere gratitude to the United States and emphasized that the people of Ntem must hold up their end of the partnership, by providing medical services and supplies. At the previous dispensary, patients would arrive sick but leave even sicker due to the building’s dilapidated condition, Ngoua said.
The dispensary is located in the village of Nkolmengoua, in a far northern district of Gabon that borders both Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. Humanitarian Assistance funds enabled the village to repair and expand an existing medical dispensary building, while also demolishing and replacing an adjacent nurse’s residence.
“Just as you rebuilt this building, you must also work to strengthen the human resources, social networks, institutions and skills that will have a long-lasting and sustainable impact on the health of this community,” said Sarah Welsh, representing the U.S. Embassy in Libreville. “We all know that citizens cannot feel secure, and they cannot fulfill their true potential, when they are suffering from malnutrition or disease and the help they need is far away.”
After the ceremony, U.S. officials visited an ongoing school-construction project, also funded by the AFRICOM Humanitarian Assistance program, in nearby MeyoKyé village. The school is comprised of two classroom buildings and a building for restrooms and is slated for completion in October 2013, when a new school year begins.
These projects and others in Woleu-Ntem were initiated after former U.S. Ambassador Eunice Reddick visited the province in 2009, and they have been shepherded by Guilhen Nguema Obone, Humanitarian Assistance coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Libreville.