The heart-rending story of one-year-old Michael Flomo is every parent’s nightmare. Michael is suffering from Phase Four Cancer, according to doctors. His small body has been invaded by cancer and his young mother, 19-year-old Hawa is distraught.
At the last resort, doctors at the Jackson E. Doe Hospital have given up on him and the sad but painful conclusion is that the poor Liberian child would have to wait till death claims him. And while waiting for the inevitable, his body is filled with excruciating pain.
The one-year-old does not understand what it means to be told to wait till death eases his suffering. And this is where the pain is more distressing.
As the Daily Observer's Yewa Sandy reported on the most disturbing news about Michael Flomo in its Tuesday’s edition, the conclusion by doctors at the Jackson E. Doe Hospital is that Michael Flomo must wait and die because his country didn’t do anything worthwhile to help him.
Perhaps many Liberians who came to know the story of Michael Flomo may be asking why God allowed this child to endure such suffering; and why did Liberia fail this boy. But we know we live in an era of impressive technological advances, that if Liberia is able to care for its own, Michael’s disease should have claimed the attention of the medical community to save him.
Liberia’s failure to save this child and many others like him, is an indictment of our leaders who have not made medical research and education a priority. We cannot always rush to Ghana for medical attention; and as cancer is one of the deadliest diseases known to man, there may be collaborative efforts with other hospitals and doctors in advanced countries to provide relief in areas that we are yet to gain the better of.
Nonetheless, Liberia’s failure to save its Michael Flomo, has put a huge challenge to the medical community, including health officials to begin to conduct research into his illness with the hope that another child in the future may be saved.
The failure to save Michael Flomo is also an indictment on our health system, and it is a clarion call to the Liberian government to wake up to a challenge that many Liberians are crying for an immediate response. If Michael Flomo should die, we must vow to let his death be an example to find solution for a case like his own in the future, no matter the cost.
Recently, before the news about the deadly Ebola disease took national stage, health workers and officials of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare tussled over their pay. The resultant solution was sadly more than could be desired, since ring leaders of the health workers' demand were ceremoniously dismissed.
The Liberian government must begin to set priorities and, in a case like Michael Flomo’s, find an emergency or a durable method to tackle it and bring some relief to the parents. It is so disheartening for a Liberian parent to be told that his country cannot help her child, and as a result the child must wait till death eases her pain.
Another distressing news was the report of the death of 13-year-old Fernice Thomas, who was buried on Saturday, April 12, 2014, after he lost his long battle to kidney failure. The issue of kidney disease is a universal problem that even the most advanced nations are still grappling with. While there have been advances in those nations, we in Liberia have not been able to pinpoint or carry out studies and education to help families respond whenever they are faced with it.
It is high time the Liberian government found alternatives to help children who suffer from diseases beyond the capacity of Liberian doctors. We do not have any justification for why an innocent child cannot be helped when we have enough resources to make a difference.