About two years ago a stomach ulcer attacked me. I vomited blood profusely and many who witnessed my ordeal felt it was my end. Many of my friends were shocked and some even suggested that I seek medical assistance in Ghana or a western country. Interestingly, I had faith in the Liberian healthcare system and I survived. Knowing Dr. Lawrence Sherman and Dr. Ian Paps-Garnon was a blessing. They are two Liberian medical professionals that have shown commitment to their work and have deep understanding of the Liberian healthcare delivery system.
When I called Dr. Sherman and told him about my situation, he calmly said to me, ‘Thomas, just come to me at Duside hospital in Firestone and we will handle your problem.’ He also noted that they had the equipment to diagnose the illness I had.
After I got healed, what bothered me was how people nagged me about going to Ghana or the U.S. to seek advanced medical treatment? They said to me that I should not just trust the treatment provided by Dr. Sherman and his team and that I needed a second opinion from abroad. I remembered at some point I got angry with one of them and retorted, ‘are you the one sick? Do you know how I feel? Thanks for your interest.’ I just could not countenance anyone trying to denigrate Dr. Sherman and his dedicated colleagues.
I was also angry for several reasons. Out of patriotism I did not see how I could slam the doctors that treated me and reestablished that sense of normalcy in my body by making me to feel well again. Where would I get the money needed to travel abroad for advance medical check-up and another opinion? Besides, I was afraid because going abroad had not saved the lives of many government officials and ordinary Liberians. Many perished on the tables of doctors in Ghana and other countries. And finally, I believed that Liberia needed to gain trust in its healthcare delivery system - train more doctors and have them specialized, as well as equip hospitals across the country with state of the art medical devices and then compensate medical personnel well.
I am certainly not crazy to believe in Liberia’s doctors or its healthcare delivery system. Why should I depend on other countries medical facilities for my healthcare? Why should a country exist and not be able to cater to the healthcare needs of its citizens? Oh! I am quite aware that the healthiness of the people is directly aligned to the productivity of the nation. Liberia needs to work for the aggregate harmony of the society because the society is only better when we make policies that benefit everyone.
When public officials and their families can travel abroad for the best care while the rest of us are left to perish in poorly supported hospitals and health centers then it is unfair. We have to move from seeking the interest of some individuals to seeking the interest of citizens. Every year when the budget passes, new fleets of vehicles are purchased and yet our government refuses to equip hospitals across the country with high quality medical equipment. The government would rather accept donations of old or refurbished equipment from donors that are sooner outdated or they are unable to maintain. An entrenched beggar mentality seems to weaken our resolve to use our own resources, but the fact remains that we cannot beg our way out of a weak healthcare system or poverty. If Liberia should progress then more of our people must have the chance to live and live a healthy life because healthcare should not be a privilege.