Written By: Foday Sesay
Tubmanberg, Bomi County – Patients at the Liberian Government Hospital in Tubmanburg, Bomi County are reportedly being abandoned, leaving many of them at the verge of losing their lives due to no health care.
Saturday night, July 9 witnessed one of the worst situations. For several hours, nurses and doctors were not seen on duty leaving patients very vulnerable. Health workers at the hospital have expressed dissatisfaction due to the deduction of their monthly incentives. There have also been recent concerns from public health workers from across the country complaining about the slicing of monthly incentives.
The Liberian Government Hospital in Tubmanberg is the only referral hospital in Bomi County with a population of over 84,000 people and it also provides health care services for locals in neighboring Gbarpolu County – a county with the least accessible health facilities in the country.
The Ministry of Health, in early June 2016 praised Bomi along with Bong County for having better accessible health care services when Dr. Sampson Arzoaquoi said during the opening of a clinic that although there are challenges in the county, citizens there have better access to health services as compared to the other counties.
But recent happenings at the major public hospital in the county have casted a dark shadow over the recorded progress of a county that was also hit by the Ebola virus disease.
When a Local Voices Liberia reporter visited the hospital at about 9:30pm on Saturday, patients who were admitted at the Peace and General walls including the emergency room were seen in tears. Patients, including a pregnant woman had to be taken care of by their respective families that have gone there to visit.
The hospital administrator, Madam Dorothy Gray, said she herself had gone to seek some medication at the time but only one physician Assistant was available on shift. She, however, did not disclose the reason behind the absence of nurses on duty.
Nurses are reportedly reneging on their duties due to dissatisfaction; some are showing up for work but with a high level of reluctance.
Low salary of health workers appears to be one f the grave challenges dogging Liberia’s health sector with health experts saying it extremely affect the provision of health services in rural communities because medical practitioners often bewail the working conditions in these areas and sometimes reject assignments.
Reliable sources are hinting that Officers-in-Charge at various clinics in Bomi County are plotting a go-slow action if demands relating to their salary are not met which may even further worsen the current situation.
Strikes by health workers in Liberia is becoming usual in recent years as it can be recalled that public health workers back in 2014 staged a nationwide strike just before the upsurge of the Ebola outbreak and efforts to contain the virus also suffered a further blow in October 2014 after health workers demanding increased hazard benefits went on go-slow.
Responding to the ongoing situation, Bomi County Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Odell Kumeh, denied that the health workers are on strike and said ‘the workers had issues with the government paying their salaries in Liberian dollars’.
Dr. Kumeh said Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh has held discussions with the health workers including the President of the health workers association in the county. She assured that the situation has been mitigated.
Residents of Tubmanberg have expressed disappointment at the prevailing situation at the hospital and are calling on government to solve the problem and are comparing the situation with incidents associated with the Ebola crisis which some told a local radio station that it threatened the county’s health sector.
Editor’s Note: This story was written published by FrontPage Africa on its website (http://www.frontpageafricaonline.com/index.php/health/1372-medical-workers-abandoning-public-hospital-in-bomi-count) and in its print edition. The story was original produced by Local Voices Liberia.