Voinjama, Lofa County - Patients at Tellewoyan hospital in Voinjama City are having hard time due to the shortage of essential drugs including at the facility.
According to the hospital administration, its pharmacy has been facing shortage of 20 types of drugs, including paracetamol, pills, salbutamol and albendazole among other drugs.
Around 100 persons, mostly typhoid, asthma, common cold and malaria patients, go to the hospital daily for treatment.
Vowu Mawolo, a patient, said she has to buy drugs from workers at the facility which the government supplies and should be given to patients free of charge.
“This all because of negligence on part of the hospital administration,” Mawolo said.
A nurse at the hospital who asked not to be named in this report confirmed Mawolo’s claims and said patients have been reeling under the shortage of medicines at the hospital for the past six months.
“The National Drugs Service has not supplied medicines to the hospital for a long time,” the anonymous source said.
“Some people working here (Telewonyan Hospital) can hide the tablets and sell to people or take it to their private drug store and sell it there.”
Hospital refers patients to drug stores
The drugs shortages at the hospital have forced doctors to refer patients to drug stores, thereby worsening the burden on the already overwhelmed health facilities in the county.
The government-run hospital is the referral medical center in Lofa County with smaller clinics requiring to transfer to it cases they can’t handle.
However, nurses at the hospital told FrontPage Africa Thursday that drugs shortages at the hospital had reversed the situation, with patients now being transferred to drugs stores or clinics instead.
“We are even serving patients who are referred here from the Tellewoyan hospital as authorities there say they are facing shortage of drugs,” Tarnue Bedell, owner of a drug store in Voinjama told our reporter Thursday.
Mental health patients feeling the pinch
At the same time, mental health patients in the county are succumbing to self-inflicted injury due to a prolonged shortage of drugs for their treatment.
According to the County Health Officer, Dr. Jusu Ballah, said for nearly nine months, mentally ill patients have not been getting some of their crucial prescriptions.
Dr. Ballah said: “We have shortages of drugs here and this increases the issues of mental health illness.
These drugs are supposed to be in plenty so that we can have them as and when we need them.”
As a result, they are more depressed, with many becoming excessively violent to an extent of causing serious bodily injury even to themselves, Dr. Ballah said.
Dr. Ballah expressed concern that this state of affairs is getting worse by the day, urging the National Drugs Service, responsible for procurement and management of drugs throughout the country, to respond to the situation urgently.
Dr. Ballah revealed to FPA Thursday that more than 100 mentally disturbed patients in the county do not have drugs.
He continued: “I am calling upon the government to make them available just like other drugs are. We have been sending reports and making requisition for the drugs (from NDS) every after two month but nothing has been forthcoming.
This has forced our patients to incur costs that they shouldn’t have in search of the drugs that we should be able to provide.”
Dr. Ballah said he will follow up the matter, describing the claims raised as a very serious issue.
Citizens Decry poor services
Meanwhile, citizens interviewed by our reporter in Voinjama Thursday expressed their concerns over the lack of drugs and poor services at the hospital.
The citizens said patients in the county continue to suffer because of negligence and lack of drugs.
They said the hospital is in a pathetic state and something has to be done to rescue the lives of citizens who are ever seeking treatment at the facility.