Liberia: Visiting Doctors Giving ‘Free Treatment’ at JFK

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MONROVIA – Doctors from America and other parts of the world visiting Liberia have begun performing free plastic surgery, ENT surgical operation, gynecological surgery, general surgery, ear, nose and throat (ENT) and treating of infectious diseases, among others at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia.

The exercise which started on Saturday, June 15, is expected to last for 10 days.

The head of the team, Dr. Sanjay Lalla, a Plastic surgeon described the team’s first visit to Liberia as the first drop in the bucket.

“Yes it is a drop in the bucket, but it is the first drop in the bucket for future partnership; we are working so at least in the future we can have teams visiting annually or bi-annually,” he said.

Dr. Lalla disclosed that the team is in Liberia to treat as many patients they can without targeting specific number of persons. He noted that his team members are all volunteer who aim is to help the Liberian health sector.

According to him, the team will work for 12 hours a day and treat as many people they can.

He disclosed they would also make a donation of 40 bags of medical supplies.

“We are bringing it to give to the people as donation and we’re going to treat as many patients as we can as safe as we can under all the same rules and guidelines we use at home; so, it will not be different in anyway, the treatment will be safe reliable and official,” he said.

Dr. Lalla said the services are absolutely free for the people of Liberia. “We are not attaching any monetary value to our services unless maybe the hospital might want to but not us, we are foot-soldiers and volunteers here to render free treatment without any attachment,” he said.

“Hopefully, if everything works well, we can continue to grow and provide yearly missions or bi-annual missions, whatever is possible; as long as we are able to go into the Country and be safe and secure,” he said.

Dr. Lalla hinted on the possibility of a partnership with the JFK Hospital that would lead to an annual or bi-annual outreach and is seeking the support of the Government of Liberia to ensure the safety of his team and the expedited clearing of medical supplies, materials and equipment that would be brought into the country for the mission.

He said an anesthesiology, a member of the team, will provide total perioperative care of patients before, during and after surgery.

The team of doctors currently in Liberia is from the United States-based Health organizations, Operation International and Marcy Health Services.

Operation International is a Medical Non-Profit organization established in 1996 to offer needed medical aid to children and adults in developing countries.

It is made up of 12 teams that traveld across the world to conduct surgical outreaches, while the Marcy Health Services is a Liberian medical NGO based in the United States of America.

The coming to Liberia of the medical team was prompted when the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Marcy Health Services, Mrs. Saiyai Hansen, a team of Doctors and Nurses from Operation International met with Liberia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. to seek the Government’s support for the planned Medical Outreach.

Speaking on behalf of the government of Liberia at the JFK, Liberian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Kemayah welcomed the team and thanked them for their interest in helping the health sector of the country.

He said government’s effort in ensuring the delivery of quality health care service across Liberia, which is primarily the responsibility of the Government; a responsibility Ambassador Kemayah stressed that President Weah and the Government of Liberia are fully committed to and implementing.

Ambassador Kemayah explained that the health needs of the people in Liberia are tremendous, particularly those within the rural areas and assured that the Government was fully committed to responding to those needs; exploring every avenue to bring health benefits to the people of Liberia in keeping with the current development mandate of His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia.

He, however, expressed interest and the need for a sustained partnership that would go beyond the JFK Hospital, and reach out to the Jackson Fiah Doe Hospital and other health facilities in rural Liberia; including, but not limited to Lofa County, Southeastern Liberia, and Western Liberia.

Ambassador Kemayah also stressed the need for a technical partnership and linkage between Operation International and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Liberia, A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine at the University of Liberia, the only instructional Medical Doctors producing institution in the country; the Liberia Medical and Dental Council (LMDC), Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts (TNIMA), Liberia Nursing Association, Liberia Board for Nursing and Midwifery and other stakeholders in the health sector in Liberia.

“We are interested in a sustained tripartite partnership and not a one-shot arrangement or medical outreach to Liberia. As a Government and as the Ambassador representing the Government and People of the Republic of Liberia in New York, the least we will want to see is an outreach that is done on an annual basis to benefit more of our people. I am also concerned about the sustainability aspect.”

He said government has a shared vision of capacity building through training and support for medical supplies, materials, equipment and other relevant logistical needs.

He noted that the health sector like other areas is advancing daily; if an individual doesn’t practice and move along with technology you will be left behind.

Amb. Kemayah: “That is where the training comes in. We would like to see it being interlocked with other Medical Stakeholders back home; including the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Liberia, A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine at the University of Liberia, the Liberia Medical and Dental Council (LMDC), Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts (TNIMA), Liberia Nursing Association, Liberia Board for Nursing and Midwifery and other stakeholders in the health sector in Liberia.”

 “You have our commitment to leave no stone unturned in reaching out to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Minister of Health, John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Commissioner -General of the Liberia Revenue Authority and other relevant Government agencies to make the necessary representation for the clearing from customs by the Government of Liberia of the needed medical supplies, materials and equipment that you will be bringing in via the Robert’s International Airport (RIA); according to you for this voluntary and humanitarian medical outreach.”

JFK Chief Medical Officer Jerry Brown thanked the team for coming and pledged the hospital’s support to conduct the free medical service for Liberians.

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