Health Ministry Might Be Dragged to Court

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Lawyers of a 60-year-old man, David N. Konyon, Sr., have threatened to file a lawsuit against the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare “for the production” of their client’s wife.

A letter in the possession of this newspaper addressed to the Minister of Health and Social Welfare states: “On October 3, 2014, a lady by the name of Old-lady Surloe, the wife of David N. Konyon, Sr. was taken from Chea-Poo Road, New Georgia North, Caldwell, by an ambulance believed to have been driven by one Fhanbulleh. The lady was placed in said ambulance by Henry Joe and others in the presence of Henry Passaway, head of the Ambulance Team.”

According to Cllr. Viama J. Blama, Trial Lawyer, National Educators Lawyers Association of Liberia (NELAL), who signed the letter, “the said ambulance took the sick patient (Old-lady Surloe) at [to] the Island Clinic.”

Cllr. Blama further stated that their client, who is the vice president, North Central Region of the National Teachers Association of Liberia, was in Lofa County at the time and proceeded to Monrovia immediately upon hearing that his wife was ill.

“In Monrovia, he visited the Island Clinic in search of his wife and was informed by those he met (Rev. Augustine and Brother Robert) that indeed the lady was taken to the Clinic.  “However, there existed no record concerning her presence at the hospital,” the NELAL trial lawyer stated.

He maintained that “whatever the case, Madam Old-lady Surloe was taken by an ambulance belonging to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, driven by its driver, identified as one Fahnbulleh, an employee of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Accordingly, we demand that the Ministry provide us information that will lead us to the whereabouts of Old-lady Surloe.”

Though no time limit was given for the Ministry’s reaction, Mr. Konyon’s lawyers said if the Ministry failed to provide the “information” they need, they would be left with no alternative but to institute the appropriate legal action against the Ministry for the production of her person.

It is not yet clear if the Minister has received a copy of the above mentioned letter, but Mr. Konyon came to the Daily Observer office a few days ago with copies of other letters he has written to the top MoHSW officials namely Dr. Bernice T. Dahn, Chief Medical Officer, Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Moses Massaquoi, Mr. Tolbert G. Nyenswah, Assistant Minister for Preventive Services and the Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry.

In the letters, all of which had similar contents, Mr. Konyon sought their “timely intervention for God and humanity,” to help him find his wife, whether alive or expired.

He told this newspaper that his wife left nine children quarantined and two were taken to the “ELWA MSF-ETU” on 15 and 16 of October. He stated that one of the two died on October 22.

He further stated that he had written the senior Health Ministry officials asking for their intervention because, “there has been no information from the administration of the Island Clinic ETU regarding the status of my wife (alive, expired) despite all efforts applied.”

He also stated that his wife’s family and remaining children constantly question him about the absence of their mom and daughter.

According to him, his wife had allegedly communicated with their church mother on the second day of her treatment at the Island Clinic, saying she was responding well to the treatment and requested their prayers.

Asst. Min. Tolbert Nyenswah said he has not yet received Mr. Konyon’s letter asking for his intervention in finding his (Konyon’s) wife.

Min. Nyenswah, who is one of the lead persons in the national fight against the Ebola virus, told our Health Correspondent that when he gets the letter he will do all he can to provide Mr. Konyon an answer about his wife’s whereabouts, “if she was indeed taken to the Island Clinic ETU. We have records on everyone who comes to our center alive and from which community that person was taken from. If the person dies, we also have records to that effect. So, I will sit with Mr. Konyon to help him out,” said Min. Nyenswah.

Min. Nyenswah expressed regret for the loss of every Liberian to the Ebola epidemic and urged everyone alive to continue to follow the preventive instructions as the virus has not totally left Liberia.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of alleged poor handling of suspected Ebola patients who go to the ETUs for treatment.  Our judicial reporter, Abednego Davis, said if this case gets to the court, it could open a floodgate of legal suits against the Ministry and some of its partners, who are managing ETUs around the country.

“This will be the first case of a suspected Ebola patient allegedly missing and no trace of a record,” he added.  

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