BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – The medical director of Buchanan’s Liberian Government Hospital has confirmed the receipt of an ambulance and an ultrasound scanner from the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Abraham Jawara told journalists that while the hospital would still need support, the provisions, which arrived on November 7 at the facility, were much appreciated.
“We are grateful that at least we have an ambulance now that can be able to [transport] our patients from their localities to the hospital,” Jawara said. “We were also fortunate to have received an ultrasound machine – something that we craved for almost two years.”
The ultrasound scanner creates an image of internal body structures such as tendons, muscles, joints, blood vessels, and internal organs. The device can also be essential for doctors to examine the development of fetuses in pregnant women.
Jawara said the hospital is still soliciting funding from citizens and NGOs to allow it to cater to its population. He noted that the facility needs at least two ambulances to properly serve the public.
Prior to the Health Ministry providing this ambulance, the hospital had two other vehicles that were dysfunctional – one due to an accident and the other due to mechanical fault. This meant that families often had to find other unpleasant ways to transport patients to the facility.
With the ambulance now available, Jawara says the hospital needs funding to cover its operational expenses. The medical director says the facility has not started receiving money from the 2020/2021 national budget.
“Currently, we don’t know what the budget is for the hospital, we assume that the US$200,000 budget that we were previously running the hospital on is available and one-twelve [of that amount] is what we are running behind currently. In fact, last year, we didn’t receive all of the money allotted in the budget for us,” he said.
The Finance Ministry has not yet published the 2020/2021 budget that was recently passed by lawmakers, but a draft version of the budget noted that in the 2018/2019 budget year, the hospital received US$220,000. The following year, it was expected to receive US$93,534. The amount initially allotted for the hospital for the 2020/2021 fiscal year before lawmakers could review the budget was US$100,000.
“Like I said, we are out of everything,” Jawara said. “It is the money that we need to run the hospital and in the absence of finance, we cannot do anything. So, the ones that are available are what we are using right now.”
He added, “In the event where you don’t have medicine at the hospital obviously, we do prescription for patients to buy their medicine and that is how we are running the hospital right now.”
However, despite the challenges, the hospital has remained open to the public, the doctor said.
Grand Bassa residents have made several efforts in recent years to ensure the sustainability of the hospital’s operations, including starting a fundraising campaign committee known as Save the Liberian Government Hospital Committee. The group has raised over US$15,000 for the hospital, but in recent times, the support has declined. The committee had also recommended that the Ministry of Health amend its policy that mandates free services at public health facilities; however, such policy change has not yet occurred.
Featured photo by Sampson David