She is married with children. Her husband is Counselor Roland Dahn, a prominent Liberian lawyer. She herself is an experienced medical doctor who since 2006 has served as Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer, second in command at the Ministry of Health to Dr. Walter Gwenigale, who has since 2006 been President Sirleaf’s Health Minister.
A lot of financial resources have come through the Health Ministry since 2006, but most especially since the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD). Nobody has yet pointed a finger at the Chief Medical Officer or her boss over their management of these finances. Some civil society organizations have called for an audit of all the funds that have come into fight Ebola, including the initial US$5 million supplied by the government through the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). But huge chunks of the money flowing from abroad have been channeled not through the Health Ministry but through the various NGOs and World Health Organization (WHO), which in any case arrived on the scene far too late, though they were alerted since March that the virus was spreading rapidly through the Mano River basin, especially Liberia, the hardest hit country.
The main reason we describe Dr. Bernice Dahn as a woman of sterling character is that the minute she found out that her own Special Assistant, Rev. Napoleon Braithwaite, had been sick, she made two outstanding moves. First, she went to visit him at his Barnesville Estate dwelling.
We deemed this an extraordinary move, for it was during the peak of the Ebola attack on Liberia and most people were avoiding anyone who even had a light cold, a fever, or looked sick, for fear of coming into contact with an Ebola-infected person.
Yet here was Dr. Dahn taking a serious risk—though she may not have thought it was—going to see her Special Assistant, which she did on September 20, 2015. This was an incredible example of compassion. The point is that at this most dangerous time in the health history of our country, her Special Assistant was sick, and she felt it her bounden duty, both as a boss and as a medical doctor, to go see him. She may not have even thought it was risky. Her primary concern was to check on him and see if there was anything that he needed or any kind of help she could render him or his family.
There are many intelligent people in the world, and even more in high positions of authority. What we definitely cannot find too many of are people with compassion (kindness, empathy, concern, care). That Dr. Bernice Dahn vividly and courageously demonstrated when visited her ailing Special Assistant.
And then, guess what! In barely five days, Rev. Braithwaite was dead of—you guessed it—Ebola!! He had indeed been infected by the virus, which unceremoniously and in a most untimely way snatched the life of this 55 year-old father of eight.
And what was the immediate reaction of this highly efficient and principled woman? Without being asked or ordered by anyone, she immediately quarantined herself from her office and her own family. She went home alright, but strictly kept her distance from her own husband, children, other family members or household people.
The Daily Observer praised her editorially, as we did another top MOH official, Madam Yah Zolia, Deputy Minister for Planning and Development. Minister Zolia, too, quarantined herself when she discovered that a driver who had brought her from Ganta to Monrovia, an over 150-mile, several hour drive, had died the following day!
We said in that editorial that if only others had behaved in the same exemplary way that these two outstanding women did, the virus would not have spread so rapidly and so devastatingly through Liberia. The problem was that too many people were in denial, and many more were in deceit—knowing they were sick but denying it and, in the process, infecting others. This caused the rate of casualties to escalate and soon, Liberia became the epicenter of the deadly virus.
We thought it was necessary to let the public know a little more of this outstanding person, Dr. Bernice Dahn, a woman of efficiency, honesty and compassion. Liberian girls and boys, here is a good example to emulate.