The Sick Evicted from JFK
December 18, 2000

According to reports reaching The Perspective, the John F. Kennedy Hospital, Liberia's largest hospital, is closed due to neglect. The employees of the hospital started a go-slow due to lack of drugs, equipment and electricity at the hospital to arouse government attention. The go-slow by the employees, who have not been paid for several months, has failed to yield desired results. In a related development, Tubman National Institute for Medical Arts (a government's nursing school at the JFK Hospital) is said to be closed. Like the employees of the hospital, teachers of the institute have been on a go-slow for months due to salary arrears.

Wounded soldiers from the warfront (Lofa) and all other patients of the hospital have been asked to evict the premises of the hospital. The Government of Liberia has not announced any plan to re-house and treat these patients.

The nation's chief health official, Dr. Peter Coleman (Minister of Health and Social Welfare) recently announced that the public health sector was being run with less than 25 doctors. "This is peculiar, but more doctors are leaving the public health sector due to poor incentives," he stated.

Citing some critical statistics, Dr. Coleman said that in prewar Liberia, there were about 400 trained medical doctors working for the government, but that number reduced considerably by the end of the war in 1997 and continues to experience progressive reduction to its current pathetic status. All this, he said, is due to "poor incentives" which "drives away Liberian doctors".

The lack of health practitioners such as medical doctors, nurses, physician assistants and other health professionals not only spells danger for potential health crisis with aids, cholera and other diseases becoming pervasive in the country, but points to the Government disinterest in the social well-being of the Liberian people.

According to a former Liberian health official, "the government allocates more than half of its national budget for the military sector, while the health and education sectors are neglected. This clearly suggests where the interest of the government lies.

"But what is even more apparent and disgusting is the frequent medical check-ups that government officials take abroad, at the total neglect of their own medical, health facilities at home. Gross neglect is an understatement! There is clearly an abandonment of social services - electricity, water and now health."

BBC reported that the Taiwanese Government has provided a sum of two million dollars to renovate the 600-bed hospital.

But the official stated, "the Taiwanese aid may on provide a partial remedy to the existing health problem, but this is no solution to preventing death and the political suffering that the Liberian people continue to experience under the Taylor regime."

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