Grand Bassa Senator Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence has claimed that a doctor at the Liberian Government Hospital in Buchanan had informed her over the weekend that patients were dying “because the hospital was out of fuel.”
“During the night hours of July 15, a doctor at the Liberian Government Hospital called me and told me that people were dying under oxygen only because the hospital ran out of fuel,” Lawrence alleged. “I need the civil society organizations to speedily come in to help question the Ministry of Health and the President why our people are struggling and the US$100,000 budgeted for the Liberian Government Hospital can't be released.”
Sen. Karnga-Lawrence added that when she received the call, she was forced to release the few gallons of diesel (fuel) she had at her house in the county to save the lives of “those who were still fighting to survive in the darkness.”
The Grand Bassa Senator noted that it pains her to hear that people were dying under oxygen due to the scarcity of fuel in Liberia, which she claimed is affecting Grand Bassa county.
Confirming the Senator's claim, a hierarchy of the County Health admitted to serious fuel challenge at the Liberian Government hospital, leading to patients who have been under oxygen suffering some difficulty finding it due to the lack of electricity.
But he could not deny nor confirm whether any death occurred as claimed by the Senator.
Meanwhile, a source at the Ministry of Health claimed that while it is true that fuel scarcity is impacting the hospital, it is not unique to the hospital but the entire county.
The source said the ministry has not been informed of any death due to the lack of power at the hospital.
“No death has occurred. We were there on June 15 and were never informed of any death,” the source told the Daily Observer. We were there to tour the hospital and had just supplied them with medication. If the medication is not enough, that means patient influx will increase. Fuel scarcity is a national problem that is not limited to the government hospital alone.”
The hospital, which in times past suffered from the lower budgetary allotment, catered to thousands of patients from adjacent counties of Rivercess and Margibi. The latest crisis at the hospital comes after a devastating fire disaster in March caused significant damage to the public health facility.
Built-in 1964, Grand Bassa Government Hospital has in the last few years suffered at least three major fire incidents blamed on electric shocks and other poor infrastructure causes.
Meanwhile, the hospital medical Director, Moses Weidegar, noted that while he could not confirm the Senator's allegation of people have died, the hospital budget is little; and not forthcoming.
He added that the hospital is faced with too many challenges, including lack of fuel for ambulances and other utility vehicles being without petroleum, making the transport of emergency patients impossible.
“There are lots of challenges ranging from the lack of fuel allotment, no essential drugs so we are constrained,” Dr. Weidegar said. “Patients are being told to purchase their drugs, inpatients have already been asked to transfer to other health centers like John F. Kennedy.
“We have been crediting here and there to the extent that we are not creditworthy anymore. So, we are constrained in running the hospital at this point. We are not even able to move our ambulance.“
The Ministry of Health, according to Weidegar, is aware of the hospital situation -- which is not unique to them, but seems to be a “nationwide problem because other hospitals are also complaining as well.”
However, the Health Ministry official told the Daily Observer that, despite the challenges, it is unfair of the Senator to speak about deaths when none have been reported under the circumstances described.
Pertaining to the alleged shortage of drugs, the official explained that Grand Bassa recently received a consignment of essential drugs for the current quarter. The official was however quick to state the need for the revolving drug fund for Grand Bassa County to be established to ensure a more sustainable supply of essential drugs to the county.