Liberia: VP Taylor Wants JFK Open Drug Rehabilitation Center

VP Taylor, U.S Ambassador McCarthy, and ArcelorMittal Liberia Government and Community Relations Marcus S. Wleh, pose with attendees before the ribbon cutting.

Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor has appealed to the administrators of the  John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital to consider building a drug rehabilitation center for the country's underprivileged youth. 

VP Howard Taylor added that the center will aid the transformation of some  citizens who are going through different mental problems  or struggling with substance abuse. 

“We actually need a wind for medical drug rehabilitation for our young people that cannot be overlooked,” the Vice President noted. “We have hundreds and thousands of young people that are on drugs and we have no way to deal with it.”

“If you are interested in changing the lives of our young people, do not throw money at them because in the end, if their minds are not reformed, they have no capacity to do what we expect them to do,” she added.  

Her request comes days after her visit to the “Oum el Nour” Liberia Inc. rehabilitation centers in Monrovia and on the Buchanan Highway, where she expressed her commitment to addressing Liberia’s drug addiction crisis. Oum el Nour (which means ‘Mother of Light’) Inc., is an initiative of the World Lebanese Cultural Union.  The program seeks to prevent and rehabilitate substance abusers and help them overcome drug addiction. 

Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world, making  it vulnerable to drug abuse and trafficking. This is due to a lack of strong laws, infrastructure, and resources, allowing drug traffickers to transfer significant amounts of drugs undetected, according to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNDC) 

Last year, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillion opened a multipurpose upgraded Center for Rehabilitation and Integration (CRI) to provide mental health counseling, rehabilitation, and technical vocational skills for underprivileged youth.

“All my dream as a Senator is to rehabilitate a single Liberian citizen instead of constructing a school building in my name that children and [the] community will have to pay fees to me before they can attend,” he said. 

The Vice President made the call when she dedicated JFK's first microbiology lab which was constructed in collaboration with the Partnership for Research on Vaccines and Infectious Diseases in Liberia (PREVAIL).  According to her, the government is working hard to help hundreds of young people who are addicted to drugs, and it would be excellent if JFK considered creating a  rehabilitation facility to accommodate them.

“The mental hospital, ES Grant, is really struggling with the issue and I believe JFK has the space to create a drug rehabilitation center that you please consider, Dr. Jerry Brown. It is important that there are thousands of young people that are involved in this process.”

Also, a central Pharmacy was constructed in partnership with PREVAIL which was dedicated by US Ambassador Michael McCarthy. The surgical ward project, which is located on the 2nd floor, West Wing of the JFK Memorial Hospital, was implemented by ArcelorMittal and the JFK Management.

Dr. Jerry Drown, JFK CEO and Administrator said the opening of the lab was something they dreamed about. He said, “we have seen patients dying because of the absence of an intensive care unit, so having the patient admitted yesterday brought great joy to us.”

According to him, since the end of the civil war, JFK laboratories have been in ruins. 

Dr. Brown added that during president George Weah's first visit, he was in tears after seeing the conditions certain parts of the hospital were in.  He remembered when the President paid his first visit, he was in tears when he saw the level of deplorable condition the laboratory was in.

“When we took over newly, the laboratory we met was a single room where we had a single platform where microbiology, chemistry, hematology and everything was done on that single platform hence the increased rate of cross infection and the contamination, hence the high possibilities of giving out false results. But today, with the coming in of this lab we are going to have a separate room for hematology, separate room for microbiology, separate room for we are going to have in there a blood bank where we will come back to some of you to donate blood freely,” said Dr. Brown. 

Marcus S. Wleh, Head, Government and Community Relations at ArcelorMittal Liberia said the support for the project further demonstrates Arlar Mital's commitment to supporting health care in Liberia. According to him, the company supported the Ebola virus and COVID-19 crisis. “We believe that every dollar we give comes back to us. If an employee of ours falls sick they come to JFK to get treatment.”