Fuamah, Bong County - A serious financial crisis has hit the Bong mines hospital; the only referral hospital located in the Bong mining town of Fuamah district, lower Bong County thus making the hospital incapable of offering essential medical services to over 40,000 residents.
In June 2016, China Union turned over the Bong Mines hospital to the Liberian government after almost three years of operation.
The hospital was built by the former Bong Mining Company (BMC) but was taken over by China Union as part of a 25yr mineral development agreement signed in 2009.
The hospital was one of its social responsibilities.
But continuing economic situation compelled the company to turn it over to the government. Although all may not have been perfect before June, things seem to have even gone deplorable ever since the government took over.
The 100 beds hospital is now faced with several challenges, including the lack of medical drugs, electricity, no doctor, poor sewerage system as well as the failure of government to pay staffs salary for nearly four months now.
Fuamah District Health Officer (DHO) Francis Kollie said if nothing is done to address the immediate challenges facing the only health facility in this remote region, it could face immanent closure.
“The entire health system here is broken down, when China Union was turning the hospital there was no budget and for four months now the hospital staffs have not taken pay,” DHO Kollie noted.
The Alvin Sirleaf is man managing this though environment, administrator of the Bong mines hospital.
He would not accept being recorded. However, he narrated the ordeal his hospital is undergoing since it was turned over to government.
“I am just so tired of talking about the challenges we face. Everyone knows what we are going through,” he said.
For four months now, workers have not taken pay, no foul to run the generator, no drugs among other challenges as he noted was not a strange situation.
The last few gallons of fuel oil would have been exhausted the very day I toured the hospital. With small fund generated from lobbying with health officials in Monrovia, the now only has electricity for six hours instead of 24 hours.
This cannot go for too long. Sooner or later, it will operate in darkness. Currently, the facility uses 40gls to run 21hrs a day. At a market price of $3.10 a gallon, this means, the hospital needs $124.00 a day to purchase only fuel or $3,720 a month.
When the hospital was operated by China Union, services were provided for fees, which disallowed many people’s especially low income earners from seeking medical services at the facility.
But with government taking over and promising free healthcare services, as part of the government’s resilient health care program the patient load has increased from around 30 daily to 120 for the outpatient department.
This increase in number of patients has outstretched the capacity of the hospital and the limited resources have constrained the hospital to fully operate.
With other operational costs handled by China Union then, the company provided between three to four thousand United States dollars to purchase drugs. But now with the company out of the equation, the operational cost burden is being put at a conservative $120,000.00 per annum, according to Alvin Sirleaf, the Administrator of Bong Mines Company.
Before the China Union takeover, the operating budget for the hospital was around US $60,000 between 2010 and 2011. But now, the reality has changed. Prices have gone up.
The departure of China Union now puts the operation of the hospital at the cross road as there is no allotment in the current fiscal year2016/2017 budget for the hospital.
Liberia News Agency (LINA)