A Liberian widow and her 13 year-old son are in deep distress and need urgent help.
Ruth B. Kubay, of Morris Farm in Kakata, brought her son, David Kpana, to the Daily Observer office Tuesday seeking medical help for his very serious condition. David is suffering from an enlarged scrotum (pouch containing his testes). They have visited many hospitals, only to be told that the child cannot be treated in Liberia; so they should travel abroad for expert attention.
Fortunately, the Daily Observer called an eminent surgeon, Liberia’s most senior one who, after reading David's story in the newspaper last Wednesday, told us that something could definitely be done right now to help this child.
David, said the surgeon, is suffering from "nethrotic syndrome," which means swelling due to failure of the kidneys to pump water and other fluids out of the system.
This surgeon has offered to give David a medical examination at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFK) next Tuesday. After this he will send him upstairs to undergo certain procedures. However, the doctor cautioned that a dialysis machine will eventually be needed. There is at present no such machine in Liberia.
The dilemma facing David and his mother is clear evidence of the inadequacy of Liberia's health system and how deeply we are in trouble.
We are faced with many problems, which lie at the heart of our basic existence as a nation and people. Three of these problems tell us how serious our troubles are. The first is our poor educational system, beginning with the massive illiteracy that still plagues us.
We are a small population–not more than four million; yet we have failed to empower this relatively tiny population with 100% literacy. Our nursery, primary and secondary schools are also woefully inadequate. So many of our students complete high school and still cannot write a straight sentence. Is there any wonder, then, that they often fail the University of Liberia
entrance? Even many of our college graduates are in the same situation.
Now here we are, faced with the Ebola tragedy, with many dying often because, given our high illiteracy rate, among other things, they do not comprehend the basic safety instructions.
The second problem is our health system. Let us start with sanitation.
For even if the country had thousands of trained doctors and nurses, our poor sanitation, including the mountains of garbage found everywhere in greater Monrovia, Paynesville and elsewhere, would overwhelm them because cleanliness and proper sanitation are almost half the cure of the diseases that plague us. Poor hygiene and unattended garbage are
primary causes disease and illness.
One of the positive developments in the health and medical sector in recent years has been the increasing output of medical doctors from
the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine. It is hoped that the recently developed Post Graduate College of Medicine will be empowered to provide these young doctors with high level specialized training.
Meanwhile, we trust that the College of Medicine, the UL and the government, in collaboration with the development partners, such as
advanced friendly nations, the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organization (WHO), will assist with foreign fellowships to speed up specialized training for our young doctors.
The third basic problem Liberia faces is our failure in agriculture.
Since the Daily Observer's re-launching in June 2005, we have been pleading with government to take agriculture more seriously. But here we are, nine years later, still unable to feed ourselves with basic commodities–vegetables, including bitter ball, pepper, lettuce and tomatoes–or even rice, our staple, and meat. We are still importing cattle from rain-starved Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Yet Liberia is filled with rivers, lakes, creeks and abundant rainfall, plus vast, fertile acreage. We have natural habitats for cattle in Grand Cess and Foya in Grand Kru and Lofa Counties, respectively.
We are also behind in tree crops. We hardly produce any coffee, and our coco production is down. We have no citrus plantations, nor cashew orchards, though the vast acreage in Edina, Grand Bassa and elsewhere are natural habitats for this crop, which is some countries' chief foreign exchange earner. We have always wasted our almond, which grows abundantly in Liberia.
The main purpose of this editorial, however, is not lamentation but lifting up of this poor child, David Kpana, to the nation and the world for rescue.
We pray that the surgeon seeing him tomorrow and other JFK colleagues can begin to do something for David, and we hope for him, eventually, complete relief from his distress.