Health Workers in Central Liberia Now Use Mobile Phone Torchlights to Attend to Patients


Suakoko, Bong County – Health officials at the Phebe Hospital in Suakoko, Bong County, the only referral hospital in Central Liberia, are complaining that the lack of electricity at the health facility is forcing them to use their own telephones to offer light while attending to patients.

Report by Selma Lomax, [email protected]

The hospital relies on generators to power emergency and critical wards such as the Maternal and Intensive Care Unit.

Several health workers told FrontPageAfrica Monday, April 22, that they switch on their mobile phones to treat their patients at night.

They called on the government and its development partners to come to the aid of the hospital. 

Josephine Peabody, a nurse at the hospital, said the main hospital’s wards have been operating in darkness for nearly a week.

“You find that when it comes to night hours, it is a big challenge here in the hospital. When your phone goes off, you will be forced to suspend night medication to the patients. We are really feeling it as it is bad health-wise,” she said.

Ms. Peabody said lack of electricity is a challenge to nurses and patients in the hospital.

For his part, Rev. Victor Padmore, chaplain of the hospital, confirmed the lack of power is a major crisis facing not only the hospital but employees, too. 

“The bus that transports staff of the hospital to work only makes one trip because of the lack of fuel,” he said.

According to Padmore, the hospital administration had presented a complaint to the Ministry of Health, but there is yet no positive response so far. “The issue about power supply is a big challenge. We have suspended giving medication to patients because of this situation,” he disclosed.

Doctor ‘Preoccupied’ with Fuel Crisis 

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

Dr. Sibley said doctors and nurses are operating in the dark, while vital medical supplies are lacking. “The situation is compounding the hospital’s problems because staffs can’t report to work while patients flock to the hospital,” Dr. Sibley said.

Depletion in 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 exist.”

“We haven’t had electricity at the hospital for a week now, and our donors are refusing to supply us because we are indebted to them,” Dr. Sibley said. He warned that the highly-essential services of the hospital too would be closed if the petroleum products were not provided to the hospital.

Phebe hospital needs 450 liters of fuel per month, to provide 18 hours electricity, according to Dr. Sibley.

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

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