“Right now the care that we really used to have, we didn't get it again, like for this morning, no doctor or nurse came to see us until 12 just because they did not receive their pay, we have kids that were in there, that food could not reach them. The nurses and doctors are the ones who bring our food to us, and if they are not satisfied, it is not going to be easy”. Ahmed Kamara, Ebola Survivor
Monrovia - The outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia has exposed the broken health sector with the country showing its inability to fight the virus but the Government in its renewed effort to fight the virus has disbursed more than eight hundred thousand United States dollars to security entities nearly equaling the amount disbursed to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare which is spearheading the fight against Ebola in all 15 counties.
Ebola patients are going hungry, lacking proper care in isolations Centers around the country as on Monday, a spokesperson for a group of 14 people sent home after surviving the virus in the presence of Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyeswah said patients went without food up to 12:pm Monday at the ELWA-2 center.
Hunger strikes Patients
Ahmed Kamara, a survivor speaking on behalf of 14 others 12 of whom were tested positive of Ebola and have now been tested negative after undergoing treatment and two others who were taken to the center under suspected cases, said on Monday, all patients went hungry until they had to go shouting for food.
Said Kamara “Right now the care that we really used to have, we didn't get it again, like for this morning, no doctor or nurse came to see us until 12 just because they did not receive their pay, we have kids that were in there, that food could not reach them. The nurses and doctors are the ones who bring our food to us, and if they are not satisfied, it is not going to be easy”.
The Ebola survivor further said he is appealing to the Government of Liberia to solve the problem as there are more people at the isolation center and going without food will be harmful to their survival.
Kamara continued “the nurses and doctors, they are the ones, God first; they are second that make us to be here today. Me standing here today talking to you, I am begging, I am appealing because we still have people in there under critical condition. We have children in there that did not eat today till 12 because nurses and doctors were angry, saying that they did not receive their pay”.
He said they had to go out shouting for food and causing noise before they could get food to eat. “So for that reason we have to almost go to the suspected area to start shouting for our food, so I want to appeal to the Government to pay these people their money”.
Resource constraints cited
Assistant Minister Nyeswah responding to Monday’s incident, said the resources to pay ELWA and JFK are being negotiated. Said Nyeswah “By tomorrow (Tuesday) they will be getting paid. We have been negotiating with them on the new pay scale and how much they want us to pay them”.
Under the new arrangement, FrontPageAfrica has learned, doctors are demanding US$3,000, but the government is said to be negotiating for the amount to be dropped to US$1,500 – 2000 while nurses are being penned in to make $US750. According to information, the government is also said to be in negotiations with new caterers to feed the patients daily as caterers are reported to have refused to deliver food because they had not been paid.
“What went on today was so disappointing. They (health workers) refused to give patients the food that was sent and the caterers brought the food later. It was wrong on the part of the health workers to abandon patients, but we hope to have everything resolved by tomorrow,” Nyensuah said.
Security prioritized over health
Already some of the measures imposed by the Government have been viewed as having security implications with the government mute on making clarity, but the disbursement of almost US$1 million to the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Liberian National Police and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization further gives some weight to rumors that there is a security dimension to the Government’s ongoing response to Ebola. With more than four million disbursed by the Government to various ministries and agencies in an attempt to fight the virus, things are getting worse, showing that management is a better option than money.
FrontPageAfrica has gathered that the Government of Liberia has disbursed a cumulative amount of US$4,701,558.68 to ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, the Task Force, Center, The Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, the Liberian National Police and the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
While health workers shunning medical facilities demanding more incentives and insurance one Ebola survivor, a Liberian Physician Assistant who worked at the C. H. Rennie Hospital in Kakata, Margibi County Kyndy Kobbah PA in the presence of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appealed to the Government to increase incentives to health workers, but despite these calls, the government disbursed a total of US$805, 912.25 to the Ministry of Defense, the Liberian National Police and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization.
The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism statutorily responsible to disseminate information also received a total US$17,500 while the Ministry of State with no health related program received US$160,000.00. As of August 22, the government indicated that it has collected a total of US$5,228,250 and L$9,310,000 from sources including the Government of Liberia contributing US$5,000,000; Central Bank of Liberia-US$100,000; Liberia Petroleum Refining Compnay-US$75,000; Charles A. Sirleaf-US$500; Unidentified donors US$44,250 and L$ 1,010,000 and the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation Ld$8,300,000.
The disbursement by the Government means the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare which has 15 counties under its control will have to share the amount in combating the virus. Five counties are so far showing a high number of cases and deaths, including Lofa, Montserrado, Margibi, Bong and Nimba counties with Nimba now reporting increases in the number of Ebola cases.
Grand Bassa County is also another county showing threats of the increase in the virus and besides mainly South Eastern Counties; ten counties have reported cases of Ebola with threats of potential increase. The disbursement of US$1,416,293.26 and L$121,000,000 to the Ministry of Health leaves the Ministry almost on par with the amount disbursed to the three security agencies since it has to disburse funding to the various counties, mainly the 10 counties reporting cases of Ebola and even the other counties for awareness and other programs geared towards fighting Ebola.
Some international organizations have blamed mismanagement and other forms of corruption for the inability of the three countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to fight the Ebola virus. Sierra Leonean President Ernest B. Koroma recently sacked the Health Minister of that country for poorly managing the Ebola outbreak.