LIBERIA: Healthcare–Rich/Powerful versus the Poor
In post-war Liberia, when you are rich and politically connected, you can get the best in medical care paid for by tax dollars anywhere in the world. But when you are poor, unemployed or living on less than US$1.00 a day, say your prayers and dont go the once prestigious US-built and government-funded—oops, government abandoned/neglected–hospital, John F. Kennedy Memorial (JFK) Hospital in Monrovia.
And mind you, despite the fact the international community –the United States, the Europen Union, the UN/World Health Organization–pumped hundreds of millions of dollars in post-war Liberia to resuscitate a dying healthcare system that was exposed by the deadly Ebola virus in 2014 that killed nearly 5,000 Liberians.
This stark reality and contradiction has been made imperative,— thanks to the destructive 14-year Liberian civil war,–by those who were instrumental in planning and financing the war and later hijacked political power since the end of the war in 2003 and left as millionaires.
In the 12 years former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf governed Liberia, the healthcare system in Liberia received close to a billion dollars. President Sirleaf appointed her older sister Jeannie Bernard as both Chairman of the Board of Directors of JFK Hospital and also National Director/Coordinator of the Liberia Healthcare System. She oversaw all Ebola Funds.
During her entire presidency, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did not step foot at JFK for a simple blood pressure checkup. Instead, she traveled to the United States each time for the best in medical care paid for with our tax dollars. Her sister, Jeannie lives comfortably in her Long Island mansion with her husband Estrada Bernard. Mr. Bernard was also Legal Adviser to his sister-in-law President Sirleaf. Talking about circling the money wagon in the Sirleaf Klan.
And if that wasn’t enough, President Sireaf had three sons in the government in influential positions. Her Golden Boy son Robert Sireal headed the lucrative National Oil Company of Liberia, NOCAL with a $360,000.00 annual salary. NOCAL went bankrupt before the ink on Robert’s resignation letter could dry up. In the aftermath, a reported $50 million disappeared from NOCAL and mother President Sirleaf took responsibility for NOCAL’s bankruptcy. No audit was performed then and to the present.
President Sirleaf also had another son, Charles keeping a watch over our money as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia. His hands were tinted in the printing and disappearance of the now missing LD$16 billion for which the George Weah administration had him arrested and jailed twice. But the case “died” and no trial to date.
A third son, Fombah was head of the dreaded National Security Agency, NSA whose annual budget was clouded in secrecy and not subject to being audited. Other family members were into gold and diamond mining and are now living comfortbly in America and around the world.
Under President Sirleaf, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Emmanuel Wuwreh; Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis; two Ministers of State for Presidential Affairs, Willis Knuckles and Edward McClain died abroad seeking medical care because the government neglected to upgrade our number public hospital, JFK.
Under President George Manneh Weah, Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan died last month in Ghana from a stroke he suffered in Monrovia in September despite the government spending $150,000.00 for his medical bill. The administration also spent $150,000.00 on Vice President Jewel Taylor for her Coronavirus treatment at another hospital in Accra, Ghana. Yet, JFK has no modern, life saving medical equipment at its Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to care for critical patients with life threatening illinesses.
As for President Weah, he just spent an untold amount of money trying to buy an airline for Liberia that doesn’t exist. That money went in vain as there was/is no airplane to mark the launching of his dream airline, “Lone Star Air” last Saturday.
And this is just in from my confidential, diplomatic sources within the US government and in Liberia: Chief Justice of Liberia Francis Kporkpor has been denied a visa to visit the United States. Many officials are also blacklisted by America and will not be allowed to visit America because of their alleged involvement in human rights abuses and corruption. More on this story in my future commentary.
Jerry Wehtee Wion
Washington, DC, USA