Monrovia — The Director of the Liberia Respiratory Healthcare Institute, Mr. Joseph W. Moore, has alarmed over the 'exclusion' of trained Respiratory Therapists by health authorities in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
The Institute was established by Partner Liberia Incorporated and is currently operating at the Oniyama Specialist and Teaching Outpatient Clinic located in the Island Clinic Community on the Bushrod Island, outside Monrovia.
It was licensed by the Liberia Medical and Dental Council (LMDC) to provide adequate respiratory training to would-be Respiratory Therapists in the nation.
According to Mr. Moore, deaths and confirmed cases of Covid-19 will continue to rapidly increase in Liberia due to the 'exclusion' of respiratory therapists from the process.
He made these comments in an exclusive interview with FrontPage Africa at his office outside Monrovia on Monday, June 29.
Mr. Moore is the former Director of Respiratory at Liberia's largest referral hospital-the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.
He maintained that Covid-19 is a respiratory infectious virus that causes difficult breathing or ventilation, and as such, Respiratory Therapists must be incorporated to adequately diagnose patients showing signs and symptoms of other diseases similar to the Coronavirus.
He added that patients suffering from pneumonia or asthma would consistently be taken to Coronavirus treatment or isolation centers if they are not properly checked or diagnosed by Respiratory Therapists.
"I am not really happy about how things are going on in the country. Our people are dying because the real people that supposed to lead this fight or to prevent this virus are not placed in the right places. Respiratory Therapists should be in involve of this fight".
"We have a lot of breathing infection diseases before the virus (Covid-19) could even come around. We have asthma, pneumonia, and other diseases. When an individual contracts some of these diseases, it is very difficult for you to breathe. Most of these patients- when they contract any of these diseases, people will think that they have Covid-19 and they will be taken to the center and placed among those that already have the virus. That's the mistake we are making here"
Mr. Moore maintained that Liberia will continue to experience unprecedented increase in the number of Coronavirus confirmed cases and deaths if specialists of various respiratory infections or diseases are not accorded the opportunity to serve their country by saving the lives of citizens.
"If Respiratory Therapists do not get involve, the virus will continue to spread and the death rate will increase. And so, we need to put the right people in the right place to prevent this from happening".
He said these specialists are being sidelined or overlooked for some unexplained or unknown reasons.
He noted that though concerns have been raised with authorities of the Ministry of Health and National Public Health Institute (NPHIL), nothing has been done to address the situation.
"They have sidelined us. We are here to safe and protect our people. But they have forgotten about the main people and put people that do not even have respiratory expertise into this fight".
Mr. Moore said though Respiratory Therapists are willing to serve their country and its people, regardless of income or finances, the right things are not being done to curtail the spread of the virus in Liberia.
"This is our country and we are seeing our brothers and sisters dying. And it is because, people do not know the differences between the respiratory infections".
Call for improvement
At the same time, the renowned Liberian Respiratory Therapist, who earned a BSC degree from the California College in the United States, has underscored the need for the improvement of the country's health system.
Mr. Moore noted that adequate training must be provided to health care workers across the country.
He said medical practitioners that are specialized in various areas, must be placed in those areas of specialties to enable them perform brilliantly.
He indicated that the improvement of the country's health system will continue to experience setbacks if the wrong people are prioritized over the specialists.
Move to reduce infant mortality
For his part, the Country Director of Partner Liberia Incorporated, Mr. Joe Daweah, disclosed that the Liberia Respiratory Healthcare Institute was established in 2012 to help provide adequate training for citizens to support respiratory care in the country.
Mr. Daweah is also the acting Administrator of the Oniyama Specialist and Teaching Outpatient Clinic.
He disclosed that the move made by Partner Liberia Incorporated, an international non-governmental organization to establish the institution, was also intended to help reduce infant mortality rate, which is mostly caused by respiratory illnesses or failures.
"We decided to come to Liberia to train more Respiratory Therapists to cut back on this high infant mortality death rate. We opened the school in conjunction with the Liberia Medical and Dental Council. Our first graduates are now working at JFK, Women of Hope Clinic and our institution here".
Mr. Daweah pointed out that the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic has slowed down normal academic activities at the institute.
He said though some graduates of the institute are working at some renowned medical institutions in Liberia, including private and public, these specialists have not been given the chance to showcase their medical skills at the forefront.
Speaking further, Mr. Daweah underscored the need for collaboration between the government and other medical institutions operating in the country in a bid to eradicate Covid-19 from the nation.
"We are open to collaborate and work with the government in combating this Covid-19. I believe that we have the expertise and equipment to assist in treating those people diagnosed with the virus"
"We want to help and we believe that if trained Respiratory Therapists are involved with this fight, we will be able to minimize the death rate and improve patients care".