The lack of appropriate budgetary allotment to government institutions seems to be affecting the full operation of the government, with the Phebe Hospital in Suakoko, Bong County being of no exception.
The hospital was constructed in 1965 as a Faith Based health facility by three churches, the Lutheran, the Episcopal and the Methodist churches, with support from the government of Liberia.
In 1973, the hospital became Bong County Referral Hospital of the Government, during the tenure of the late President William R. Tolbert due to financial constraint but owned by the churches. Prior to the outbreak of Liberia's 14years of civil war, the hospital was one of the best within the Mano River Basin; treating patients from Guinea, Sierra Leone Ivory Coast, among others.
However as Darlington Porkpa of our staff reports, restoring the hospital to its prewar status seems to be a major challenge due to the lack of resources from national government.
Speaking Monday, June 18, 2018 before the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on Ways Means Finance and Development Planning, the Hospital's Medical Director, Doctor Jefferson Sibley, named the lack of appropriate diagnostic and medical equipment, estimated at US$78,000 as well as the lack of appropriate funding to purchase drugs and medical supplies and increase daily patients and students meal from one to two, estimated at US$165,000 are some of the many challenges currently confronting the hospital.
Doctor Sibley also informed the committee that the hospital urgently need an estimated US$144,000 to recruit two medical doctors (specialists) to provide specialized surgical medical services at the hospital.
"We are asking the Legislature to help us with US$45,154 to enable us complete the construction of the building to house the simulation laboratory and library at the Rural Health Training Center. To acquire utility vehicle to transport drugs and medical supplies from Monrovia to Phebe at the cost of US$57,480. We also want to complete the construction of the CT-Scan building (US$26,500) to house the donated equipment," he said.
Other constraints confronting the hospital, according to Doctor Sibley, are limited diagnostic and medical equipment, lack of specialized medical staff and insufficient drugs and medical supplies.
Additionally, Dr. Sibley named inadequate simulation and library spaces for students, limited support for ambulance service, the lack of space in the Emergency Room, unpaved road entry to the hospital compound, which results to infusion of dust on major medical equipment among others as further constraints.
About US$1,981,976is allotted to the Hospital in the draft 2018/2019 budget for the operation of the Hospital and the Training School. He said US$100,000 is projected for the running of the school, something he said needs to be increased to about US$825,668.00.
Providing a breakdown on the 2017/2018 budget allotted to the Hospital, Sibley said the Ministry of Finance Development Planning budgetary appropriation was US$2,010,341, adding that of this amount, only US1, 789,197 had being received and that the remaining US$221,144 is yet to be provided.
He disclosed that of the transferred grant for Rural Training Institute projected at US$100,000 by the Ministry of Health, only US$91,250 had being received. He indicated that the balance US$8,750 is unpaid.
"The Ministry of Health support for personnel is US$454,552. The hospital fee for service collected for the period was US$40,321. Outpatient services, obstetric services, pediatric services and above 65 years of age is free of charge. The nursing school is also at no cost to the students. Other operating income generated during the period is US$66,963. Other funds received during the period which were not budgeted total US$74, 4445. This fund was for donor specified projects with its separate bank accounts as instructed by donors. The projects are Mental Health Training Program and Sightsavers," he outlined.
He added that the monthly average usage of fuel oil by both vehicles and generators is 6,000 gallons at the cost of US$3.45 (US$20,700). Yearly cost is US$248,400 and 12 drums of lubricants cost at US$9,600 yearly.
Sadly, the Phebe Medical Doctor concluded his presentation by informing the committee that due to 2016/2017 budget short fall and reduction in budgetary appropriation, the Phebe hospital and School of Nursing presently owe vendors a total amount of US$336,785.00.
Meanwhile, following his presentation the Legislative Budget Committee thanked Doctor Sibley and team for the level of sacrifices exerted over the years, promising that the committee will ensure necessary financial adjustment is done to capacitate the hospital.