Families suffer bereavement all the time. People, loved ones die every day and thousands every year. That is in keeping with the Biblical injunction—“It is appointed unto man (and woman) once to die, and after death, the judgment.”
But this one—the passing of Elizabeth Mawe Dumah, a brilliant 27-year-old nurse with a Bachelor’s degree from Cuttington, and her unborn baby—is particularly painful and tragic.
The father, Mr. James Dumah Sr., the mother, siblings and other relatives are simply shattered. Pulmonary embolism, or blood clots, snatched away our brilliant and beautiful sister and expectant mother and bride. Alas, the day on which she was expected to be married, May 7, is the day of her funeral.
At this point, all we can do is to throw up our hands to Heaven and ask, “Why, Lord? God have mercy!” We may not get an answer, except the divine consolation, “God knows best.”
And we must go on to ask ourselves, “What happened to Mawe? Could she have been saved? This sorrowful, untimely death brings again into the public glare the debacle that is Liberia’s health system! Was there a doctor on duty at C.B. Dunbar in Gbarnga where Mawe was treated? What equipment was available to that doctor that could have saved this youthful nurse’s life?
To amplify the tragedy, let us remind ourselves of how long it takes to train one nurse. Say she completed high school at 18. She spent four years at Cuttington—22 years, and another five years in practice. Having graduated with highest honors—summa cum laude, Mawe could easily have gone on to medical school. Liberia, we have suffered another great loss!
If indeed she died from pulmonary embolism, the other question is, how could she have been saved?
Pulmonary embolism is a blockage in the pulmonary artery, the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs.
What causes a pulmonary embolism?
Pulmonary embolisms are treated with anticoagulant medicines. These stop the blood clot from getting bigger while your body slowly reabsorbs it, and reduce your risk of further clots developing.
If you’re diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, you’ll usually be given regular anticoagulant injections for about five days to begin with. You’ll also be prescribed an anticoagulant tablet called warfarin to take for several months.
As part of your treatment, you’ll need regular blood tests to check that the dose of warfarin you’re receiving is correct. If the dose is too high, you may experience bleeding and if it’s too low, you may have further blood clots.
Keeping mobile will also help you maintain good blood circulation and prevent further blood clots forming.
Did the C.B. Dunbar Hospital in Gbarnga have the anticoagulant tablet called warfarin? If not, why not? And did the doctors on duty know about this anticoagulant tablet?
For those of us who continue to take this thing they call medical efficiency lightly, believing that anything goes in medicine, so long as we have a big building called the JFK, think again. For as long as we take medicine and healthcare lightly, our people will continue to die for nothing. This is made obvious in the death of this promising Liberian nurse, Elizabeth Mawe Dumah.
We plead once again with our government to improve our hospitals, health centers and clinics. What happened to all the promises and pledges our development partners made during the Ebola epidemic? We reported on many occasions their pledges to help us rebuild or healthcare delivery system and we constantly pleaded with our government to take seriously these pledges and do the follow-up to ensure that they are realized.
Alas, it seems we have NOT followed through. It seems no one has taken a particular interest in going through each of our clinics, health centers and hospitals to ensure that each is fully equipped and ready for any emergency. Look at the Tappita Hospital—the CT Scan equipment is down—after Ebola?
Even the JFK X-ray and other medical departments lack adequate, modern equipment. How is it possible that after all the promises, things still remain woefully the same? What kind of people are we? What kind of government do we have?
Why are we Liberians always missing valuable opportunities? How sad it is that after all the promises made to us by our partners, we have failed to even begin to improve our healthcare delivery institutions? Instead, the JFK and many other medical facilities are stuck in a quagmire of corruption and ineffective leadership resulting in poor healthcare delivery. Those who can afford it have to travel abroad for procedures we have no reason not to be able to provide. The majority who cannot must suffer or die.
We make this one last appeal to Health Minister Bernice Dahn to leave her plush office in Monrovia and go visit all our clinics, health centers and hospitals throughout the country, see for herself the dire needs and DO SOMETHING. Or we will continue to lose many Mawe Dumahs.