-Patients appeal for help
Due to lack of sufficient budgetary allotment to run the Phebe Hospital in Suakoko District, Bong County, the facility has been without electricity for the past days, a situation that is reportedly affecting the smooth running of the hospital, the Daily Observer has gathered.
“On Wednesday, January 23, 2019, the County Health Team provided 100 gallons of fuel, which we are managing to run the hospital for now until government can intervene. As I speak to you, our medical director Dr. Jefferson Sibley, is in Monrovia to present our plights at the Ministry of Health,” one source said.
Source: “Quality healthcare is dependent on power, but whether it is a simple vaccine cold-chain system, blood banking, or other surgeries, electricity has an immense role to play in the healthcare delivery in the 21st century. All over the world, electricity is named as the ‘most vital of all infrastructure services, because without it, most other services will not function. Electricity is huge and a big issue at this hospital that we must not fail to address with urgency.”
Electricity affects everything at this ranging from sterilization of medical equipment to sewage disposal, intensive care to provide clean water, the source said.
The source added that the monthly average usage of fuel by generators is 6,000 gallons at the cost of US$3.67 per gallon, (US$22,020 per month). Yearly cost is US$264,240 and 12 drums of lubricants cost at US$9,600.
The source said in the 1980s, the hospital had direct electricity supply from the power source from Gbarnga, but since the civil war ended in 2003, the hospital has survived on generators, something out source said is cost intensive.
Although authorities at the Ministry of Health is yet to speak to the Phebe’s situation, our source said the lack of appropriate budgetary allotment to government institutions seems to be affecting the health sector, with Phebe Hospital being of no exception.
When contacted via mobile phone, Phebe Hospital Medical Director, Dr. Jefferson Sibley, confirmed the shortage of electricity, but said he was in Monrovia to confront the requisite authorities on the situation.
Investigation conducted by this newspaper established that in the 2018/2019 national budget, the hospital received US$1.98 million.
It was gathered that the government provided over 80 percent of the hospital’s running cost but, as it relates to the provision of goods and services, the government is slow in responding to the request of the hospital.
Some of the patients who spoke to the Daily Observer said power outage at the hospital has compelled them to buy flashlights for the personal use.
In a related development, the hospital is reportedly experiencing shortage of essential drugs, many of them which are have gone out of stock to the extent the patients and health providers are raising deep concern.
The Daily Observer established that prescriptions are given to patients to buy their medications outside the facility, because of the prevailing situation.
It was gathered that the hospital still owes a little over US$300,000 as debt to vendors, who supply drugs and fuel for the smooth running of the hospital and the Phebe School of Nursing respectively.
As the result of the outstanding debt, it is making it difficult for Phebe to provide some basic services to patients on a daily basis.
Moreover, the hospital is burdened with providing services to the impoverished segment of the population and, at the same time, enforcing a follow-up strategy on defaulting patients.
The 200 bedrooms hospital was opened in 1921, with the Phebe School of Nursing being the country’s first nursing school. In spite of being attacked and looted during the country’s civil war, the facility never stopped offering services until the war ended in 2003.