Dr. Kenneth Frimpong, a Ghanaian biotech professor and embryological and forensic DNA expert, has promised, with Liberian partners, to build an ultra-modern hospital in Liberia. It will be a multi-specialist medical facility prepared to provide world class molecular medicine in West Africa.
The immediate question that arises in the minds of Liberians is, “What has happened to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center? We thought it was the JFK that was built to do all this and more.
Many things have happened to the JFK. This Medical Center was well on its way to development and expansion, providing many kinds of specialized services right here in Liberia. Some JFK surgeons have told the Daily Observer that President William V.S. Tubman did not have to travel to London for prostate surgery in 1971, and die there as a result. They insisted that the surgery could have been performed right here in Monrovia—at JFK. Alas, that was not to be and what happened, happened.
The beginning of JFK’s decline started with the 1980 coup d’etat. All the killing that went on, including President W.R. Tolbert Jr. and his topmost officials, immediately transmitted a streak of fright throughout the country, most especially among the population of Monrovia, the capital, where most of it took place. Many leading professionals, including medical and paramedical, immediately fled the country. The JFK, too, was directly affected. Its Chief Medical Officer, Dr. H. Nehemiah Cooper, a top class surgeon and also President Tolbert’s personal physician, was stripped naked and made to sit on the floor at the Post Stockade at the Barclay Training Center (BTC)—he along with leading government officials. This, in addition to the killings that followed, sent a terrible message to many other doctors, who immediately fled the country with their families, many never to return.
One was Dr. Joseph N. Togba, Jr., son of Liberia’s first modern medical doctor, Dr. J.N. Togba, Sr., and first Director of the National Public Health Service (now Health Ministry).
Dr. Togba, the younger, a plastic surgeon, has for many years established a lucrative practice in California, USA.
Another who fled the country was Dr. Jerome Ngangana, a heart surgeon.
But we all know that these were the consequences of the Samuel Doe led coup that was totally mismanaged, leading inevitably to civil war. The war drove away most of the remaining professionals, causing most national institutions, including the JFK, to sink further into disintegration and ineffectiveness.
Ah, mismanagement! In one of our editorials last week we raised the question as to whether we still have three branches of government in Liberia?
We all have to continue to pray that mismanagement will not once again lead us to another state of confusion, retrogression, destruction and backwardness. Let us pray for peace, for WAR IS NOT GOOD. Let us pray and, for sure, work and be vigilent that the coming elections will be free, fair and transparent, and that there will emerge a leader who will be truly selfless, and lead our country to self-reliance, development, modernity and prosperity. Then we will no longer have to run to Ghana, South Africa and beyond to treat our serious illnesses.
At the same time, let us encourage Dr. Ken Frimpong and his partner, Mr. Joe Gene Mulba, who are planning to give Liberia, at long last, a hospital that will provide DNA, molecular cancer, diabetes, hypertension, infertility treatment and sickle cell elimination.
We hope that Dr. Frimpong and Mr. Mulba will be successful in finding property on which to develop this modern medical facility and we wish them Godspeed in this very hopeful endeavor.