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Liberia: Health facilities closed in Nimba

Over lack of drugs and salary payment

By Lincoln G. Peters 

Liberia: The reported gradual closure of Sanniquellie’s only government referral hospital, G. W. Harley, and the Vayenglay Clinic in Twah River, Vayenglay Town, Nimba County, spells doom for residents of those towns who might be seeking medication there during times of illness or for other health needs.

In a recent tour of the facilities by our reporter, this paper discovered through interviews with health workers there the lack of adequate medical drug supplies, alleged lack of salary payment, limited workforce, and medical equipment by the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health.

This paper found that due to the reported failure of the government through the Ministry of Health to provide adequate drugs for the Vayenglay Clinic in Nimba County, it has become a ghost camp and death trap for several residents in the area and its environs.

Those interviewed alleged that since August of this year, the Ministry of Health has not provided drugs for the clinic and they are allegedly owing about 25 workers of the clinic, some about five and others, nine months salaries, respectively.

Mr. Roland Larmie, Chief of Operation Room at the Sanniquellie referral hospital confirmed during an interview that for the past three to five months, the Government of Liberia has allegedly not provided any medicine or medical drugs for the county’s only referral hospital.

Larmie disclosed that the government is owing him 19 months’ salaries, while some employees of the institution have not been paid their salaries for up to seven or ten months.

“The only referral hospital for the entire Nimba County is not having drugs. We have been out of drugs for the past three to four months,” said Mr. Larmie.

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“The hospital is only prescribing drugs for patients and we are not treating them. We who are in the operation rooms are not having equipment to carry out the operation and other surgical work, and so what we do is to tell them what to buy and we do the work for them,” Mr. Larmie added.

According to him, the government over the past time has provided little drugs for the hospital, but the problem is that the drugs are always not enough to serve the population.

He suggested that if the government can provide drugs and other medical equipment, the death rate in the county will reduce.

“People are dying from common malaria in the county only because the hospital is not having drugs to give patients. We have experienced instances where we prescribe medicine for the family members to buy and while in the process, the patient dies. The hospital has lost its importance under this government,” Mr. Larmie continued.

Larmie further indicated that if they are to carry on the operation and other surgical work for a patient, they can tell the family members to have ready all the materials that the hospital will need to use in order to have a successful operation.

“We have told them in our report and even through our county elected leadership, senators and representatives, but they have promised to work with the Ministry to solve the problem, but the problem is worsened by the day because our people are dying,” Mr. Larmie lamented.

Also speaking, Obediah Zeambo, head of vaccination at the government-run Vayenglay Clinic in Twah River, Vayenglay Town, disclosed that Vayenglay is the only government clinic in the area that provides health services for over seven neighboring towns.

“Vayenglay Town alone has about 9,771 persons that go for medical treatment at the clinic from the seven neighboring towns. We are only prescribing drugs and medicine for patients,’ Zeambo said. 

“We have no equipment at the clinic and the salary is not coming. Therefore, the health center is gradually at closure,” Mr. Zeambo said.

For his part, the Chief Lab Techniche at Zorgowee Clinic, upper Sanniquellie, Karnplay K. Dempster Cooper complained of the same situation cited by Mr. Zeambo and Mr. Larmie, noting that workers in the lab lack equipment to diagnose illnesses and at most times, people don’t get to know what’s happening to them.

“I’m working in the lab as a technician, but the problem is no equipment and so the lab is closed, going to a year now. We have informed the requisite authority but yet there is no positive readdress,” he lamented. 

“Salary problem is a big issue and because of that the hospital is poor and we are not actively working because we are not having the capacity to solve the problem or cure sickness,” Mr. Cooper explained.

Meanwhile, residents of Nimba County are appealing to the Government of Liberia for its intervention because they are finding it difficult to get proper medical treatment when they are not having money to buy medicine outside.

The residents indicated that they lack access to transportation means to take pregnant women to the hospital, and after struggling to walk long distances to get them to the hospital by foot, the hospital would have no medicine to care for them.

“We are dying because this place, mostly all our government hospitals have become a death trap and ghost camp for us. They are all gradually closing because there are no drugs and equipment to look at us, the poor people,” some residents said during the interview.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/health-workers-lament-conditions-of-work/

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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