Musa Sheriff, 25, is one of over forty (40) patients currently at Liberia’s central tuberculosis treatment facility known as TB Annex. It’s located here in Congo Town, a suburb of Monrovia. For weeks now, Musa has been lying on a bare plank bench. Neither he nor nurses here can say why he’s not among other patients in the male ward.
Musa lacks energy even to speak. His whole body is swollen – the stomach the most protruded. According to him, his situation is due to the many rehydration drips given him by nurses. But nurses attending to him say his swollen body is due to series of complications he himself may not be aware of.
Stains of blood can be seen around body parts where needles have been inserted. His skin is pale and finds it difficult to get up from his bench-bed. Doing so comes with much pain. “I think I am already dying. I am in so much pain now. I no longer feel like I am alive. They (nurses) should just tell me that I am dying. This is so much pain,” Musa moaned in pain.
For days now, if not weeks, he has not taken his bathe – his odour and stench of the environment is a testimony.
Nanejae Nagbeh is a physician assistant. He has followed Musa since 2015 when he first came to TB Annex for tuberculosis treatment. Nanejae says the patient got treated of TB and was discharged. Early 2017, he returned to the hospital, but this time in a more deplorable condition.
As focal person for multiple drugs resistance (MDR) cases at the hospital, Nanejae suspects Musa may be suffering from more than just TB. “He may be suffering from organs failure. We suspect kidney and liver failures as evident by his swollen stomach and face. We have given him a lot of treatment to detoxicate his system. He urinates, but very scantly,” he says.
For Nanejae, Musa’s complication presents a clear and serious threat to his life. “The liver is responsible to detoxicate the body while the kidney excretes these toxic wastes from the body. So, if you have a situation like Musa’s where he doesn’t urinate, you can imagine how much toxic wastes are being deposited in his body and how much danger those are doing to his body and life. That is why we keep giving him some attention to manage the danger the toxic materials are doing to his body until we find a way to transfer him to a bigger hospital.”
Musa hails from neighbouring Sierra Leone, but has lived in Liberia since five years no; three of which he spent in Grand Cape Mount County. He needs to go to a bigger hospital because TB Annex does not have the sophistication to manage kidney and liver issues. But the patient has no one to foot the bill.
Unfortunately, too, TB Annex says it does not know how to go about it. Nanejae: “This is a problematic situation. We do not that capacity to handle his skills. We’re planning to transfer him to any bigger hospital like Tappita or JFK; but the question is ‘who will take care of his bill’? The man does not have any family, not even a friend that we know. Apart from the bills, who will even take care of him when we transfer him?” Nanejae wants immediate help to save Musa’s life.
With the unanswered questions of who foots the bill, Musa continue to lie on his bare plank-bench bed wearing away in so much pain.