Liberia: Phebe Hospital Fuel Shortage Results in the Death of Patients Awaiting Oxygen

Phebe, Suakoko District, Bong County - Bennel Neblett, a 2016 graduate of Cuttington University, and two premature babies, have died in Phebe Hospital because it cannot afford fuel to run its generators, an official said Friday. The three patients died because they could not be operated on without electricity.

They needed oxygen which is provided through electricity-powered cylinders, according to a hospital official who insisted anonymity for fear of reprisal.

"The situation is worsening," the doctor said, insisting that if nothing is done to remedy the situation the death toll of poor patients who can't afford to buy fuel during emergency situations could increase," the official said.

Ben's sister only identified as Beatrice told FrontPageAfrica Friday that the family was raising money to purchase 10 gallons of fuel as requested by doctors when her brother passed. "When we brought my brother to the hospital, we waited for an hour before the doctors told us to buy fuel for the generator because the hospital was dark. We didn't have the money to buy the 10 gallons of fuel the doctor told us to buy so we decided to call family members for help and it was during that process our brother passed," she said.

The hospital's administration could not confirm or deny Beatrice's claim. Mr. Victor Padmore, acting medical director of the hospital told FrontPageAfrica that the hospital was facing fuel shortage.

Phebe Hospital, through Padmore, has warned that patients who require surgery and emergency services would be made to pay for the cost of fuel. According to him, it would help sustain the services at the hospital.

Speaking to FrontPageAfrica, Padmore said: "We say that our services are free, but challenged as a hospital. We have not received fuel from government since September last year. The only time we expect someone to pay for something is when you are in the hospital and you are being asked to do a surgery or your situation is critical."

Continuing, he added: "We have to sustain the service. It means that something must be paid for the fuelling of the generator for that particular case. That doesn't mean we are charging. But really when the people can't afford, we will not insist they must, at all cost, pay."

Phebe Hospital serves central Liberia's (Bong, Nimba and Lofa) poorest residents and most can't afford. Patients who spoke to FrontPageAfrica said they were shocked that the hospital was asking patients to buy fuel on their own.

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