Loss of a Great Son: Who Will Be the Next Dr. Walter Brumskine?

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This question is both urgent and heartrending (agonizing)—heartrending because we have none to replace him and every country needs not one, but several urologists. The question is urgent because the Ministries of Education and Health, the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, where Dr. Brumskine served for decades, the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, where he taught, and the Post Graduate College of Medicine—each, indeed all of these institutions, we insist, have the responsibility to begin NOW training the next batch of urologists and other specialists.

Each of these institutions, known nationally and internationally, should they lack the financial resources to do this, should immediately start contacting the Embassies near Monrovia for fellowships to enable our many youth with the talent and passion for medicine to go study urology and other specialties.

Dr. Brumskine’s story should be an inspiration to all Liberian youth. Here was a man who, from childhood, knew what he wanted to be. There are, mark you, many men and women who are “late bloomers”—because some of them finish their first degree and still don’t know what they want to become. Walter was different. He wanted to be a doctor and the Catholic fathers at St. Peter Claver in Buchanan and at St. Patrick’s High in Monrovia must have told him, “If you want to be a doctor, you have got to take Math and Science seriously.” He did, graduating second of his class at St. Patrick’s.

This, too, is a lesson for our youth. Unlike so many who lack determination, focus and passion for anything, Walter Brumskine did not say that because he was not the dux he was giving up. No! When he was yet a boy, he said he wanted to become—not dux of anything, but a medical doctor, to help suffering humanity. To do that, he needed to love and do well in Mathematics and Science. And so right out of St. Patrick’s, he entered the University of Liberia, where he majored in Biology, following his dream. By that time, he knew he was on his way. His grades were good enough to win him a fellowship to medical school in Spain!

Nor did he remain abroad to make big bucks. No. He returned home to serve his people. Seeing his seriousness and passion for medicine, his superiors helped him obtain another fellowship—this time to Great Britain, where he specialized in a field no Liberian had yet entered—Urology. Also known as genitourinary surgery, urology is the branch of medicine that focuses on surgical and medical diseases of the male and female urinary tract system and the male reproductive organs. One of the most common urological problems is urinary incontinence, which is the involuntary excretion of urine. It can become serious in men as they age. It is also caused by enlarged prostate gland. Here is why urology is such a critically important field:

The prostate is a gland that produces the fluid that carries sperm during ejaculation—the climatic point of sex. The prostate gland surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine passes out of the body. So a male with this kind of condition is in very serious trouble. That is why Dr. Walter S. Brumskine was so important a doctor.

For the past several years since he had been medically inactive, Liberia has had no urologist!

But urology is only one of the thousands of branches of medicine, for most of which we have no specialists in Liberia. We have only one orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Kpoto; and only one pathologist, Dr. Rubell Brewer, and he has been in Seychelles for the past three decades.

Dr. Brumskine’s passing, therefore, is a wake-up call for the entire country.

What must be done now? First, for the few doctors we have in country, we need to start appreciating them and stop taking them for granted. For example, why was there no representative from the Ministry of Health—or no high government official—at Dr. Brumskine’s funeral?

We have already made the point about training. But now, considering what happened to Dr. Brumskine, let us Liberians start appreciating our medical practitioners by training them, in the first place; by paying them well; by making sure they have the modern facilities to work with; and by appreciating, encouraging and honoring them whenever there is an opportunity—that means ALWAYS!

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