A US-based medical organization, Chicago Global Health Alliance (CGHA), recently donated a 40-foot container filled with an assortment of medical items to several health facilities, including the John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFKMC).
Other beneficiaries are the Phebe Hospital in Bong County, the Booker Washing Institute (BWI) Clinic in Margibi County and the Ganta United Methodist Hospital in Ganta, Nimba County.
The items, valued at over US$500, 000 (excluding shipping, handling and other expenses), include surgical, diagnostics and consumable medical goods. They also included non-medical goods such as a lift and furniture.
According to Mr. Kenety Gee, Executive Director of CGHA, spontaneous interventions, like the one from his group, always “fill in the gap” as there are few good suppliers of most of the donated items in Liberia. As such, whenever the hospitals run out of supplies, it takes a while for the ordered items to arrive in Liberia.
The US-based Liberian, who has been returning home since 1998 to give back to his home country through donations from his friends in the United States, said the donation was his organization’s way of identifying with the hospitals.
“We hope the donation will help to solve some key health issues and go a long way to help people,” he added.
He disclosed that when he was in the country last year to make another donation, he saw patients lying in their hospital beds awaiting medical supplies although the hospitals had ran out of supplies. “When the supplies we brought in last year were opened and taken to those hospitals, they filled in the gaps,” he said.
The CGHA Executive Director said his team also noticed that most of the donated equipments breakdown with no one to repair them. To address this problem, he disclosed that his group has decided to open a Biomedical Technician Training Center, whose graduates will provide maintenance and repair services for some of the equipments so that they can last their full shelf life.
“These equipments are made with three assumptions: first, that they will have stable electricity; second, that they will be serviced and not just repaired; and the third, that they will be in stable temperature,” he added.
Gee said that he hopes that by the next academic year, the bio-tech training will begin at BWI as part of its vocational training program.
He said that in 2013 he was accompanied to Liberia by urologist Dr. Adam Burphy, who is also the Board Chair for CGHA, and were allowed to do surgeries at JFK Hospital.
He recalled that during their work, they found out that some clinical and diagnostic equipment that were needed for some of the procedures were unavailable at the JFK.
“Some of the important equipments were not here at JFK so we were told to go to Phebe. We went to Phebe and they did have the equipment that we needed, but they didn’t have many,” Gee said.
He stated that despite that setback, “some procedures and some work were done. All of the procedures couldn’t be done either, so we went to Ganta United Methodist Hospital. We found that there was also a shortage of equipment. We came to Redemption and there were also shortages.”
Because of the above impediments at the health facilities, Gee said they decided that upon their return to the US, they would gather as many different types of equipments as they could to bring back to Liberia.
Speaking on behalf of JFK Hospital, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Billy C. Johnson thanked Mr. Gee for the “substantial” donation to JFK and the other health facilities. He said the items would be very helpful to them.
Dr. Johnson stated that during the onslaught of the deadly Ebola virus disease in 2014, the nation’s health system collapsed, and that it is only waking up now, “so medical supplies of all sorts are welcomed to help fill in the gap.”
JFK Hospital, which is the largest referral hospital in Liberia, sees at least 500 outpatients every day.
It can be recalled that a few weeks ago, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf received in audience a 12-member delegation from CGHA led by co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Rev. Gee, at her Foreign Ministry Office in Monrovia.
President Sirleaf told the visitors that many Liberian health professionals were forced to relocate to other parts of the world due the civil war and that the need for professionals remains a key priority for the country.
As the President welcomed the delegation to Liberia and thanked them for their life-saving interventions in the country’s health sector, she indicated that the services rendered by the group are appreciated by the government and people of Liberia.