In Liberia, More Drugs in My Suitcase Than in The Hospital

By Aneri Pattani

At the only hospital in Rivercess County, Liberia, which serves 75,000 people, the pharmacy sits mostly empty.Credit Nicholas Kristof

I considered leaving my suitcase at a government hospital in Liberia last week. It seemed the hospital needed its contents more than I did. My suitcase had antimalarial.

The hospital did not. My suitcase had ibuprofen. The hospital did not. My suitcase had acetaminophen. The hospital did not.

Granted, I am an overzealous packer, but St. Francis is the only hospital in Rivercess County, serving 75,000 people. How could it lack what I had packed for a 10-day trip?

“The simplest things we don’t have,” said Dr. Mamady Conde, the only full-time practicing doctor in the county.

One reason for the paucity of supplies is that most health care in Liberia is free. From prenatal checkups to surgeries and even birth control, the majority of services are offered at no cost. (Yes, it’s strange to realize that birth control, which can be expensive without insurance in America, is actually free in Liberia!) But it’s difficult to support a free system in a low-income country where the tax base is so small. As a result, medications are often rationed.

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Source: News Now/ New York Times Online

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About Cholo Brooks 16147 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.