Urgently Needed: A Spine System for JFK to Heal Our Sister Bendu Ballah and Others with Similar Ailments
She is a young nurse-aid who, following her graduation from Peace Home Medical School, has been treating and helping to heal hundreds of patients. Now, Bendu Ballah has, unfortunately, become a patient, suffering from a spinal ailment, a condition that cannot be treated in Liberia.
Why? Heaven knows.
Our leading medical institution in Liberia is not a mere health center or even a hospital. Named after one of the world’s greatest political figures, it is called the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, named after the 35th President of the United States.
When it opened here on July 27, 1971, a few days following President Tubman’s death (July 23, 1971), “the JFK,” as it immediately became popularly called, also became a leading medical institution in the whole of West Africa. This came as a result of President W.V.S. Tubman’s 1961 visit with the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, at the White House in Washington, D.C.
During that visit, President Kennedy asked his distinguished guest, the first African leader to visit the White House since the beginning of the Kennedy presidency, “What is the most important thing we can do for Liberia at this time?” President Tubman quickly replied, “Mr. President, we need a good medical center in Liberia.”
President Kennedy told President Tubman, “That is a great request. You have it!”
“The rest,” as they say, “is history.” President Kennedy immediately gave the orders for the construction of the institution which, upon President Tubman’s orders, gratefully bears the great name of the gracious benefactor — the John F. Kennedy Medical Center. By the time the Center was opened, on July 27, 1971, President Kennedy had long been assassinated (on November 22, 1963). But his name will forever be remembered in West Africa as the American Leader who gave the orders for the creation of one of West Africa’s first and leading medical institutions.
Patients came to the JFK, as the Medical Center immediately became popularly known, from all over Liberia, West Africa and other parts of the continent, seeking specialized and ordinary medical treatment in many and varied kinds of ailments and diseases. The JFK was staffed by hundreds of high level medical professionals and specialists and soon became a leading referral hospital in West Africa. By that time and sometime later, hundreds of Liberian medical and dental practitioners trained abroad by the Liberian government, and with the assistance of the World Health Organization (WHO), had begun returning home to serve at the JFK and other medical institutions in the country.
But many years have passed, and the JFK slowly began losing its glory. The April 12, 1980 military coup d’etat immediately commenced the medical center’s unfortunate doom. Hundreds of doctors, including surgeons and other medical practitioners, nationals and foreigners alike, immediately fled the country with their families, not knowing what next to expect from this ruthless and murderous band of non-commissioned officers that had seized power after brutally murdering President William R. Tolbert, Jr., the topmost officials of his government and many other people.
That immediately began the JFK’s decline. It would take time for the world, Liberians included, to regain confidence in the JFK.
This is where our young and ailing sister, Ms. Bendu Ballah, finds herself today. The Daily Observer is in no position to say whether or not the JFK is able to rescue our ailing sister immediately and completely from her ailment. We surely hope and pray that Dr. Jerry Brown and his team of medical practitioners are able to rescue our dear sister from her condition, or to recommend a competent recourse and help her find the means to do so.
We call on all humanitarian organizations, political and otherwise, to come quickly to the rescue of our dear Liberian sister, so that she may be speedily and completely healed of this disease and be restored speedily to perfect health.