By Lekpele M. Nyamalon
I read a news report of the near collapse of the Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing, located in Bong County, Central Liberia. The reporter, Marcus Malayea, quotes Medical Director, Dr. Jefferson Sibley, of an imminent collapse of one of the nation’s oldest health institutions.
According to the Trinity Lutheran Church, a religious supporter to Phebe, Phebe Hospital opened in 1921 and the Phebe School of Nursing was the first nursing school in the country. Phebe Hospital stands as a beacon of hope to hundreds of citizens residing in Central, Northeastern Liberia and, in some cases, as a referral hospital to residents from Monrovia. I spent a few years living in Bong County and completed my elementary education at the Cuttington Campus School, a secondary school and subsidiary of then Cuttington University College. Phebe, back then, was the home to some of the nation’s finest doctors, surgeons and specialists, from Internists , Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ophthalmologists, Pediatricians, Radiologists, Dentists, etc. Now, we look down memory lane, watching Phebe as a shadow of a coveted past. The present should not covet the past, but use it as a precursor to move ahead; hence Phebe should be given all the support to render the services it is called to deliver.
Healthcare should be a number one priority for any nation and we cannot afford to see Phebe die. The following should be implemented as soon as possible to restore the life of Phebe and ensure that citizens within the affected areas get the full assurance of a health care delivery system.
- A complete assessment of the needs of the hospital is made to ascertain the level of support.
- A pharmaceutical supply is ensured to avoid patients being sent to purchase medications from unscrupulous fake drug peddlers.
- A full restoration of Public Power at the hospital and a solar alternative to cut down the high cost of power supply
In spite of being attacked and looted, Phebe Hospital never stopped offering services during the civil war (1989 to 2003.) As a boy, I saw Phebe go through series of looting, destruction as a result of persistent civil wars that affected her facilities. On September 23, 1994, Phebe lost some of her dedicated medical professionals at the hands of gun-toting thugs who evaded the hospital and opened fire on armless civilians and patients. Despite these challenges, Phebe continues to stand as a symbol of resilience and a major contributor to the healthcare delivery system of the nation.
The Nation’s overall healthcare delivery remains daunting with poor medical facilities across the country, insufficient drugs, and poorly trained staff, amongst others. Attention has to be given to private institutions that help to boost government’s efforts in providing basic social services across the country. With the threat of infectious diseases, malaria, typhoid fever, and other Public health challenges, a resilient healthcare incubator is needed to provide the needed backup and fill the medical gap. The waves of the deadly Ebola virus devastated many healthcare centers across the country, leaving dead scores of healthcare workers. Thus, more training is needed in areas of infectious disease control and prevention. The call for the restoration of Phebe is clarion and should be treated with utmost urgency by policymakers with the necessary budgetary allotments. The John F. Kennedy Medical center, built in the mid-sixties and opened in the early seventies, cannot afford the shock and traffic of patients across the country should Phebe cease to operate. The Bong County legislative caucus, Ministry of health and other stakeholders should take up the case of a private facility that provides health relief to citizens from Bong, Nimba, Lofa and other parts of the country. Save Phebe Now!
Lekpele M. Nyamalon is a Poet, Writer, Inspirational Speaker and a Mandela Washington Fellow, a flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative. He can be reached at [email protected]