The chairman of the Committee on Health, Senator Peter Sonpon Coleman, has called for a change of administration at the JFK Memorial Hospital and warned that if pressure was not put to bear on the chairman of the board, who happens to be the Minister of Health, “to ensure that the amended JFK law that was passed is implemented, we are not going to go anywhere and our people will continue to suffer. There is a need for change of administration at the JFK and the way it is run,” he said.
Sen. Coleman’s remarks were made in support of a letter submitted to Plenary by Senator Geraldine Doe Sherif, in which she brought to the attention of her colleagues “an existing horrendous condition” at the JFK Memorial Hospital.
Senator Sherif, who chairs the Senate Committee on Executive, recounted the difficulties financially depressed ordinary citizens go through at the JFK to get services such as laboratory analyses, which she said sometimes take a whole day.
All these are happening, according to Senator Sherif, despite annual budgetary allocation by the government, and the fact that the hospital generates its own revenue to improve its healthcare delivery and other medical facilities.
Senator Sherif further informed the Senate plenary about reports of threats by health workers in Bong County to lay down their tools because of alleged reductions in their salaries/allowances, without any prior notice or reasons for such actions from the Ministry of Health, and the county health authority.
“This is evident by the National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NHWAL) in their press conference on August 3,” Senator Sherif noted.
She referred to the alarming number of mentally challenged (‘crazy’) people on the streets of the country and communities, some with harmful objects that pose threats to the movement of normal citizens.
The Montserrado County lawmaker recalled that the Ministry of Health has over the years denied this category of the citizens their basic rights to shelter, feeding, clothing as well as medical care.
“I want to know what has happened to the social welfare facet of the Health Ministry, when the streets are flooded with insane people,” the Senator wondered.
“On this backdrop… I am kindly requesting your indulgence to pray to our Committee on Health, Gender and Children Protection to intervene or invite the requisite authorities to provide us with the reasons why these things are happening at the referral hospital and in Bong County.”
For his part, Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson described authorities at the JFK as “medical terrorists,” and called for a decisive action against them.
Following the reading of the Sen. Sherif’s letter yesterday, the Senate mandated its secretary general to cite the Minister of Health Dr. Bernice Dahn and the entire Board of the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Memorial Hospital to appear at the chambers on Tuesday, August 23.
They will be requested, among other things, to show reasons why the recently passed amended JFK law intended for the smooth running of that institution has not been implemented.