By Stevenson Kobeh Dweh
On Saturday, February 13, 2016 J.J. Dossen Memorial Hospital in Harper City, Maryland County received consignment of assorted medical supplies from Maryland County Association Of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, through Hon. J. Gbleh-bo Brown, Senator of Maryland County, Liberia.
The medical supplies including hospital beds, crutches, wheelchairs, and blankets amongst others were turned over by Senator Brown to Hon. Betsy Kuoh Toe, Superintendent of Maryland County and Chairman of the County Health Board for onward presentation to J. J. Dossen Memorial Hospital’s Administration.
J. J. Dossen Memorial Hospital is the County only referral hospital which also caters for referral medical cases from parts of Grand Kru and River Gee Counties, but the hospital desperately needs essential medical and drug supplies to efficiently function. Its catchment population is put at 22,800; the hospital, unlike other counties referral hospitals, catchment population is based on the population of Harper City which is a gross understatement of the population of the entire Maryland County and other parts beyond the county that it caters for.
More besides, the catchment population in the service area of the hospital increases every year more than the annual 2% of the estimated growth of catchment population according Ministry of Health & Social Welfares giving the presence of basic institutions that attract people in mass on yearly basis like that of the William V. S. Tubman University and the concessions companies in Maryland and Grand Kru counties that expand in scope of operation every year. The hospital is underfunded by the Government of Liberia; it receives a little over US$300,000 annually as government allotment, and the understatement of its catchment population could be the major reason responsible for this infinitesimal budget allocation.
In his remarks, the Senator on behalf of the people of Maryland County extended thanks and appreciation to the Maryland County Association Of Atlanta, Georgia, USA for such a kind gesture for the people, and expressed confident in the County Health Board and the County Health Team for the Proper utilization of medical supplies to meet the medical needs of the people in the County in line with the expectation of the donor.
Commenting on the history of the partnership, the Senator told the audience that it all happened in early September 2015 when NAMCAL invited him to witness its national convention held in Providence, Rhodes Island, USA; the convention’s agenda highlighted the health needs of Maryland County with focus on J. J. Dossen Memorial Hospital amongst other things, but the NAMCAL expressed serious dismay over the fact that despite efforts by some Liberians and Marylanders in the United States of America to send medical and drug supplies to the County for the hospital, the supplies did not reach the hospital and the people, and consequently, NAMCAL needed committed Marylanders at home to partner with to ensure that people of Maryland County would benefit from future medical and drug supplies. Senator Brown accepted the offer on behalf of his people.
Speaking to The Perspective via phone, James O. Davis, the President of the Maryland County Association of Atlanta, verified that the supplies were sent by his organization, and not NAMCAL. He said though his organization is a member chapter of NAMCAL, NAMCAL has its own projects. The President added that the consignment was a foretaste of what will come next, if it benefited the people of the county.
According to Senator Brown, the consignment is the first medical supplies received and cleared at the Freeport of Monrovia by him since the partnership. He also thanked the CARITAS of the Catholic Diocese of Cape Palmas for providing its truck to transport medical supplies to the county.
In conclusion, Senator Brown asserted that as Co-chairman on the Senate Committee on Health, his focus is to see all counties health systems revamped and Maryland County is no exception.
The Deputy Speaker, Mrs Karthlyn Jlaka, of National Association of Marylanders in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and the Association’s representative to the occasion also made a personal donation of blankets to J. J. Dossen Memorial Hospital, and revealed plans to make donations of medical supplies to the county four administrative districts’ clinics in the next few days. She also expressed the Association willingness through Senator Brown to compliment GOL efforts to revamp Maryland County Health System.
Mrs Jlaka has made several trips home and is always in the business to inform the Association and other Liberians in the US about the health needs of the people in the county; her effort has led to Liberians and Marylanders in the USA to make donations to the Maryland County Health System.
Responding on behalf of the County Authority and the county Health System, the County superintendent and Chairman of The County Health Board, Hon. Betsy Kuoh Toe, thanked the Maryland County Association in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and Mrs Karthlyn Jlaka, and Senator Brown in particular for such a venture on behalf of his people; she indicated that in the past, lawmakers spent their annual recesses on their farms at home at which time they were able to share with the people, but for present lawmakers, majority spends its annual breaks abroad which does not matter, but wherever you spend your annual break, what you bring home to share with your people matters, and that makes you the leader for the people, and Senator Brown has demonstrated that and is one of the good examples that others should emulate.
For proper usage of medical supplies, the Superintendent ensured the Senator and partners and Marylanders in general that those supplies will be used for the intended purpose; she told the audience that there is a monitoring team put into place comprising of members from her (Superintendent) office and the county health team that is charged with the responsibility to monitor all health activities in the county including distribution of medical and drug supplies to the hospital and various clinics in the county, and this has been working well since the incumbency of the new County Health Officer (CHO), Dr Myers C. Pajibo.
Receiving the medical supplies on behalf of the J. J. Dossen Memorial Hospital Administration was the pharmacist, Mr. Munyan Karvah; he thanked the donors and pledged the administration commitment to properly utilize supplies but highlighted the major challenge the hospital faced with now, is the shortage of essential drugs at the hospital.
The Civil Society Organization of Maryland County represented by the 1st Vice President for Administration of Maryland Youth Association, Adam Gyude Moore, lauded the effort of the Maryland County Association of Atlanta, Georgia, USA for such a kind gesture for its people at home and admonished the good Liberians and Marylanders to continue their good deeds in the cause of their people; also he expressed hope in the JJ Dossen Memorial Hospital administration for the proper utilization of medical supplies and warned against misdirection of supplies as was done in the past.
The officers of the Maryland County Association of Atlanta, GA are as follows
President …………… James O. Davis
Vice President………...Kudeh Williams
General Secretary……. Edward Cummings
Treasurer…………….. Akma Captan
Assistant Treasurer…....Nana Yancy
It can be recalled that on May 26, 2015 a story entitled “Maryland Health System: Millions Spent, No Development” was published by Menneh Bobokadieh in The Perspective pointing out the poor administration of the Pool Fund (over 7 million United States Dollars) for the County Health System, financial scandal at the JJ Dossen Memorial Hospital spearheaded by the then CHO, lack of appropriate administrative structures for check and balance system and the Liberians, including Marylanders in the United States of America sent drugs and some medical supplies in the wake of the Ebola crisis and the supplies got to Harper since November 2014 but were not turn over to the JJ Dossen Memorial Hospital, among others.