Bartum Nyakwettee Kulah Sr. MD, MBA
I witnessed Dr. Benedict Kolee’s exchange with the panelists on Spoon Talk and felt the need to pen this letter to the Editors of major newspapers in Liberia so that the Liberian populace starts to put things in perspective.
While we wait on the outcome of the second autopsy, it is my hope that the press and citizens will start asking for the proper investigative tools, which will help distinguish between a homicide, suicide, and natural deaths; because of the multiple “strange deaths;” which have continued to happen since the death of: Mr. Harry Greaves, Mr. Matthew Innis, Director Nyensuah, Mrs. Betty Lama, Odell Sherman, the disappearance of the three boys and others.
One must understand that in Liberia and along the West Coast of Africa, they do not have the luxury of having Sub-Specialties. Usually, these nations have one or maybe two General Pathology Physicians, in the country: who would do Forensics, Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. On the other hand, In the United States we have the resources, and the population to support Sub-Specializations like: Forensics, Otolaryngology, Gastroenterology, Urology, Cardiology, Nephrology, Endocrinology, Hepatology, Hematology/Oncology, Orthopedic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Hand & Microsurgery, Transplant surgery, Neurosurgery, Plastics & Reconstructive Surgery etc.
Prior to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf commissioning a study in 2013, on how to improve health care delivery; Liberia had mostly General Medicine physicians working in the country; but now we have: Pathologists, OB/GYN, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatrists, a Neurosurgeon etc.
In fact, contrary to the impression put out by Spoon Talk’s Keff Hassan, the Government of Liberia through the Liberian College of Physicians & Surgeons, have been sending our doctors out of the country for Specialization since 2013. The first head of the program Dr. Stephen Kennedy can attest to this, and there are documents online to prove this fact. In addition, the first Neurosurgeon, Dr. Alvin Doe Nah was trained by Dr. Paul K. King, an Atlanta Neurosurgeon and other members of the Kor Le Bu Neuroscience Foundation, back when Dr. Kateh ran the Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital in Tappita.
You all must understand that for a resource strapped nation with competing priorities, as well as misplaced priorities (paying lawmakers $15,000.00 USD, giving them $45,000.00 for vehicles every 3 years, and $30,000.00 USD twice, to spend at will; budgets of Finance ministry, Ministry of Presidential Affairs, the President, Vice President and First Lady budgets in the tens of millions of USD, to million USD, respectively) you must realize that the nation has failed to fund health care, and the Liberian national Police effectively. As a result, you will not find an Oncologist, ENT, Vascular, or just a Forensic Pathologist in Liberia. It’s currently not practical.
Yet, the Liberian National Police does not seem to have a Forensics lab, Crime Scene Investigators who: collect specimens, do blood splatter analysis, fingerprint analysis; or the true detective work that goes into determining the difference between a homicide, suicide, or natural death. Thus, I believe your anger and frustrations are misplaced.
Furthermore, I strongly believe that Dr. Kolee did a very professional job in determining the cause of death. It was left with the police to do further investigations, in both cases, to determine whether there were any aggravating or intervening circumstances.
Moreover, in all the cases we have labeled as “strange deaths” the failure in clearly convincing the Liberian population beyond a shadow of a doubt, is a result of a nation that has no trust in its government; and the lack of logistics, and proper training of the Homicide Unit of the LNP.
I believe Dr. Kolee got emotional on Spoon Talk, because he was a little angry by the disrespect from Dr. Francien Chenoweth; who failed to disclose that she was involved in the Odell Sherman case and sent Dr. Rockefeller Cooper to Liberia; even after she was notified that he was not a Forensic Pathologist.
Furthermore, Stanton Witherspoon, who censors certain Liberians who are critical of his antics, and the fact that he is playing a deceptive game of cat and mouse with the Liberian populace on the one hand, and President Weah, Chief of Staff MacGill and Minister of Finance Tweah, on the other hand; failed to ask the proper questions and to call on his handlers/owners, mentioned supra, to equip the LNP with a Forensics lab, properly trained Crime scene Investigators and Homicide detectives.
My people please leave Dr, Kolee alone. He and other Liberian professionals are doing the best they can, given the circumstances.
May the souls of our fallen citizens Rest in Peace!
And may Liberia Rise Again!