Playing with the People’s Health

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Does the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH) truly have no mechanism in place to monitor what is happening in the nation’s hospitals and clinics?

You mean this Ministry did not know that the Barconnie Clinic in the country’s second oldest county, Grand Bassa, has not been functioning since the day it was dedicated three years ago by President Sirleaf herself?

Besides, what about the county’s politicians–those who follow in the noble  tradition of Stephen Allen Benson and Joseph J. Cheeseman, respectively the second and 12th Presidents of Liberia?  You mean the President pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Senator G. Findley and Senator Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence, her predecessor, the late John Francis Whitfield and all of Grand Bassa’s Members of the House of Representatives–did do not know that Barconnie Clinic has been closed since the very day the President opened it in 2011?

Well, that is what our young reporter Conscience Tequah told the nation in yesterday’s Daily Observer.  Quoting Barconnie Town Chief Alphonso Gee (which means leopard in the Bassa language) Tequah said that during the dedication ceremony, there were furniture and staff at the clinic.  Town Chief Gee was quoted as saying, “We as community dwellers, along with the neighboring communities, were very happy because we felt that our health problems would be solved.

“But surprisingly, after Madam Sirleaf left that day, we saw a big truck come and take away everything within the place and the nurses we saw earlier  also left.”

When the people asked why the furniture had been taken away, they were told that “those materials did not belong to us.”

The County Authority told the people, “There is no money for the clinic.” What a grand deception!  We must remember that the Barconnie Clinic was opened in the heat of the 2011 elections campaign, when all the Bassa politicians and county officials sought to gain heavy political capital from it.

This kind of raw political deception, hypocrisy and downright selfishness and mean-spiritedness has to stop.  Remember, Conscience’s report said that just next to the Barconnie Clinic is an elementary school with 250 children.  They and the surrounding communities, two to three hours walk from Barconnie, had hoped that this clinic would be a salvation for them.

Now, according to Town Chief Gee, people are using the clinic buildings for their latrine.  The roads are also bad, and patients, including expecting mothers, have to use motorbikes to reach the hospital in Buchanan.  “We have lost many babies and other people that way,” Town Chief Gee said.  What a disgrace, happening in the heart of one of the nation’s leading political subdivisions!  You mean the Superintendent at the time, Julia Duncan Cassell, now Minister of Gender, and other county officials could not have contacted some of the big companies in the county, such as Arcelor Mittal and the equally deceptive Buchanan Renewables, to DO something about Barconnie Clinic?

The school was opened by the United Nations Special Representative, Karen Landgren.  At the time, the grateful people thanked her and expressed the need for a clinic, and she promised one would be built.

True to her promise, the UN community, backed by the UN Development Program (UNDP),  built the clinic.

Have our people truly forgotten the high calling of politics–which is to serve the highest interest of the PEOPLE?  No, it is not just about winning elections.   Those politicians who want to be fondly remembered, like Nelson Mandela–yes, he’s the only one we can think of right now–should work so hard, and conduct themselves so faithfully, lovingly, so compassionately, that when their work is finished here, the people would never forget them.

Alas! Most of the world’s politicians don’t care.  All they want is to get elected.  They vigorously shun or seem totally oblivious to the concept of statesmanship.  And what is a statesman? According to Webster, “One who exercises political leadership without narrow partisanship.”  In today’s parlence in Liberia, a statesman is one who practices GOOD GOVERNANCE.

We call on Dr. Gwenigale and his MOH and all the Grand Bassa politicians to do something quick to have Barconnie Clinic opened without delay, and keep it functional for the sake of our beleaguered and deeply disappointed fellow citizens in Barconnie, the school and the surrounding villages.

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