Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Poor state of health

Liberia needs at least 1,200 doctors to grapple with its post-war situation but currently it has only 120. And 70 of those are foreign doctors serving with international non-governmental organisations and the United Nations.

"We have a serious shortage of health manpower, not just doctors; we need doctors but we also need more nurses, more midwives and more laboratory technicians," Health Minister Gwenigale said.

Liberia has only one medical college which turns out between six and 12 graduates each year. Medical students at the college, which is a part of the University of Liberia, complain about the conditions in which they are expected to live and train, with a lack of electricity and running water in their dormitories.
"The dormitory is not even conducive for people to live; medical students need to study for up to six hours a day but here we study on candles," said student spokesman Robert Mulbah. In addition to the lack of light and water "we don't even have food", he said.

To pay a doctor or consultant a $200 monthly salary "is not encouraging at all," says Dr Coleman , former Health Minister and practising surgeon . "This is why we see an exodus of trained doctors from Sub-Saharan Africa going to seek greener pastures abroad."
To encourage doctors to take assignments up-country rural areas , their pay would be increased to about $1,000 - that's five times the current average salary.

So what do we suggest? Although we cannot specify in advance a utopian blueprint for a socialist health policy we can assume that a real concern for the health of the population would be reflected in planning and decision making. Such a society is not a pipedream, but the logical outcome of the working class taking control of their own struggles against the current system, and redirecting their energies into an explicit attack on it. The demand for a healthier society is in effect a revolutionary demand.

No comments: