December 8, 2023

Liberia Gets First Dialysis Center

-As President Weah Names center in honor of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf; everyone and anyone can get affordable dialysis treatment

President George M. Weah has dedicated the nation’s first national Dialysis Center to help boost the country’s health sector and described the development as an important milestone to provide comprehensive and modern health facilities to the Liberian people and treatment.

At the dedication of the facility held on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Sinkor, President Weah said for the very first time in the history of this country, anyone and everyone can get affordable dialysis treatment right here in Liberia. 

The Liberia National Dialysis Center was established through support from Tokushukai Corporation-Japan, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization, according to officials.

New Dialysis Center at JFK Memorial Hospital

Tuesday’s event was graced by World Bank Group Country Manager, Khwima Nthara, WHO, Health Minister Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel F. McGill, Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francis N. Kateh, and other senior and junior government officials as well as partners.

President Weah said for the first time in the history of this country, anyone and everyone can get affordable dialysis treatment right here in Liberia, stating “Liberians have had to travel out of the country to seek dialysis treatment, stating “no one needs to tell you how costly that is.”

President Weah said it is important to acknowledge the strong support and important contributions of international partners to this project, particularly the World Bank, ECOWAS, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

New Dialysis Center equiptment

“Not only would you have to worry about the cost of treatment in a foreign country, but there is also airfare, accommodation, and so many other associated costs which make the overall cost of this lifesaving treatment unaffordable for many,” President Weah said.

“I am pleased to be here to participate in the Opening Ceremony of the first Liberia National Dialysis Center.  This is an important milestone in our effort to provide comprehensive and modern health facilities to the People of Liberia,” President Weah said.

Liberia President George Manneh Weah

President Weah said upon taken office in 2018 as President of Liberia, he was briefed by the then newly-appointed Minister of Health that there was an urgent need for dialysis facilities in Liberia, and that there was a project that had been in the pipeline since 2011 under the previous administration.

He acknowledges the commendable initiatives taken by my predecessor, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; the former Minister of Health, Dr. Walter Gwinegale, and our then Ambassador to Japan, Madam Younger Telewoda (now accredited to Germany), to get this project started,” President Weah said.

He lauded those who have worked tirelessly to complete the Liberia National Dialysis Center, including the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, and her able team, as well as the administrative and medical leadership of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.

President Weah extended profound thanks and appreciation to Dr. Tokuda Torao, the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Administrators of the Tokushukai Medical Corporation for his kind philanthropy, stating “without which this project might have taken much longer to realize.”

“I am informed that the facility consists of ten (10) beds.  Although this is a good beginning, it is obviously insufficient to address the needs of the entire country. I call for the early expansion of this facility, and its replication in other counties in Liberia in order to provide easy access to our citizens who reside in the rural areas,” President Weah said.

He said it is also important to develop appropriate budgetary support for the operation and maintenance of this facility, including the adequate supply of consumables and medications, and training.  

President Weah admonishes and encourages the Ministry of Health and the Management of the JFK Medical Center to urgently engage the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, and our International Partners, to secure recurring operational support.

Accordingly, President Weah said Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was the first female elected president in Liberia and Africa, it is with great pleasure that I officially declare this National Dialysis Center the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf DIALYSIS CENTER in honor of former President Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

He further acknowledges the commendable initiatives taken by his predecessor, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; the former Minister of Health, Dr. Walter Gwinegale, and then Ambassador to Japan, Madam Younger Telewoda. 

World Bank Group Liberia Country Manager, Khwima Nthara lauded the Weah-led administration, World Health Organization (WHO), and Tokushukai for the job well done.

Mr. Nthara pledges the World Bank’s commitment to supporting President Weah’s administration and his development agenda. 

Dr. Jerry F. Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center said it was a blessing to live and see this great initiative coming during my lifetime.

Dr. Brown said it has been a long time since the administration’s dream of having a Dialysis unit at the JFK Medical Center, especially so when the administration always strives to ensure that during this administration, referral out of Liberia is reduced by 50% as much as possible.

“Our dream has been to build on our infrastructure development, build our human resource capacity and also strive to bring new equipment to improve our Dialysis capacity. However, why we strive to do that, I would like to take you back a little into our history so that we understand the essence of this unit,” Dr. Brown said.   

Accordingly, Dr. Brown said back in 2014, he met Ambassador Weah now President Weah along with the late Dr. Abraham Borbor who was once his teacher for internal medicine but was saddened despite all efforts to see Dr. Borbor die from renal failure.

He said there were many other Liberians the country lost to renal failure and renal disease during the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak and they would have been saved if Liberia had this Dialysis center including those who died during the Coronavirus.

Dr. Brown said many individuals and children who have acute failure cannot afford the medical bills. He, however, said individuals and children who may be taken to the Dialysis center stand a greater chance of surviving when they undergo at least two circles or more of human dialysis, stating “there are many lives that are going to be saved.”

He said there are two disease burdens in Liberia that the country needs to watch out for including diabetes hypertension and the incident rate of diabetes is around five percent. 

Dr. Brown said most of those who have diabetes will come out with acute chronic disease and will lead to individuals coming down with stroke.

Recognizing the importance of this unit, Dr. Brown said maintenance of the unit is key and must be taken seriously in order to continue to serve the Liberian people.

“To maintain this unit, we must build our human resource capacity, train our doctors as professors who are in the country will not stay and the nurses need to be trained and brought up to the level of the ones that were brought in,” Dr. Brown said. 

Dr. Brown calls for stable electricity for the running of the dialysis center or else, the unit will not function and people seeking treatment will not receive the treatment.

Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Liberia’s Minister of Health lauded President Weah, WHO, World Bank and Dr. Tokuda Torao, Founder and Chairman of Administrators of Tokushukai Medical Corporation for ensuring that the project is completed and fully functional. 

“This is a big deal. The burden that every disease brings is heavier and not having access to affordable quality care makes that burden even heavier. This is why we must celebrate for the many patients who will not have to leave their family and friends because they have to seek care in another country,” Dr. Jallah said. 

She said there’s a need to celebrate this milestone because there’s hope and care in Liberia now for friends and family members with kidney disease, stating “we all must continue to educate the public on lifestyle changes that will prevent kidney disease.”

Photo credit Executive Mansion/Mozar Dennis

Editor: Alvin Worzi


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