Towards a resilient health system
If the recent health situation in Sinoe County that struck 13 persons dead, leaving behind 31 cases after rapidly spreading to Grand Bassa and Montserrado counties is anything to judge by, then Liberia’s much heralded resilient health system leaves much to be desired, in all sincerity.
Since the first incident occurred in the county in mid-April, it was only on Monday, 8 May that the Minister of Health Dr. Bernice Dahn came up with findings, attributing the cause of death to Meningitis Fever after health authorities ruled out the possibility of Ebola Virus Disease.
According to the Health Minister, as of May 7, a total of 31 cases, including 13 deaths have been reported from Sinoe, Grand Bassa, and Montserrado counties, respectively with Sinoe along recording 27 cases and 10 deaths, Montserrado, two cases with two deaths, and Grand Bassa, two cases with one death.
She also disclosed that a Kenyan pathologist has arrived in Liberia to conduct autopsy on remains of some of the victims, while specimens have been sent to the France, Center for Disease Control in the United States, and other partners to help in dealing with the situation.
While this is ongoing, three counties have been affected, including Montserrado, which hosts the nation’s capital, Monrovia that is heavily populated. If an entire population that had suffered a devastating Ebola outbreak just two years ago (2014) has to go thru another health crisis that is likely to spread further, particularly in an election year, it should be cause for serious concern.
We must admit that our health system is still under the curve, plagued with barrage of challenges ranging from lack of trained manpower, political will to equipment and corruption, despite huge budgetary and donor support.
More than a dozen of our fellow compatriots have died in less than a month and we are still struggling to establish what actually is responsible for their demise. It’s so sad that we would have to live with such disappointing reality after several national conferences on the health sector of our country.
We must muster enough courage and blame ourselves as a nation, especially so when almost all of our national leaders go abroad to seek medication, leaving the challenging health sector with posterity, which will surely treat us, unkindly for our neglect or seeming lack of willpower.
We are taken aback that, until now, the situation has not claimed the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Instead, members of the First Branch of Government, especially those in the House of Representatives, who are pre-occupied with seeking reelection, while senators are gearing up to endorse the candidacy of Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai for the Presidency.
With just one month to the start of campaign for the October’s Presidential and Representative elections, we call on both the Executive and the Legislature to address the current health situation that has claimed over a dozen lives with utmost urgency before it goes off hand.