Liberia: Phebe Hospital Goes One Week without Electricity


Suakoko, Bong County – Phebe hospital in Suakoko, Bong County has gone without electricity for almost one week, putting patients’ lives at risks.

Report by Selma Lomax, [email protected]

The referral hospital in central Liberia relies on generators to power emergency and critical wards such as the Maternal and Intensive Care Unit (ITU).

Patients for the past week have had to depend on lighting candles and other torches to provide light for wards where there were no small standby generators.

Dormitories hosting staffs and students of the Phebe Nursing School have not been spared the pitch black darkness.

The Medical Director of Phebe Hospital, Dr. Jefferson Sibley, said he has been so preoccupied with finding fuel to keep the lights on that he hasn’t found time to treat patients.

Sibley said doctors are operating in the dark, while vital medical supplies are lacking.

“The situation is compounding the hospital’s problems because staff can’t report to work while patients flock to the hospital,” he said. 

Depletion in the fuel, Dr. Sibley said, has led to complete paralysis in the services of the hospital, which serves more than 10,000 people in Central Liberia.

“We have very frequent electricity cuts, and our machines need power to function. If the electricity is cut for a long period, everything ceases to function.”

One doctor at the hospital, speaking anonymously for fear of reprisals from his bosses, said doctors can no longer perform most emergency operations. The last time this happened — this week — one patient died because staff could not perform necessary procedures.”

The doctor said he tells patients pay for a private clinic elsewhere. “When they come I simply tell them to go to clinic where they can afford to buy drugs,” he said.

But this hospital serves the city’s poorest residents.

“Most cannot afford it. Even me, they have been calling me now that we need operation, but I told them, frankly, there’s nothing we can do, nothing in my hands,” the doctor said.

Sibley warns that the highly-essential services of the hospital too would be closed if the petroleum products were not provided to the hospitals

“We have had no power at the hospital for days, and our donors are refusing to supply us because we are indebted to them,” Dr. Sibley said.

“My concern right now is with those that we might not get to in time,” he said.

Sibley warned that the highly-essential services of the hospital too would be closed if the petroleum products were not provided to the hospitals.

Dr. Sibley fears the hospital is only days away from having to shut down: “We are struggling with electricity fuel shortages. If this continues we will have no other alternative but to shut the hospital doors,” he said.

Dr. Sibley then appealed to all interested parties, to work towards immediately ending the fuel crisis being faced by the hospital.

Phebe hospital needs 450 liters of fuel per month, to provide 18 hours of electricity, according to Dr. Sibley. One patient in the Emergency Room only identified as Jerry, 36, told FrontPageAfrica his life was in the hands of God. “Only God can rescue me from the problem I am facing. I have been here for days now and no doctor has come to talk with me,” he said.