By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, Jr.
The Liberia Medical and Dental Council (LMDC) has frowned on the alleged inception and operation of a medical educational program, the Oniyama Teaching Hospital without the permission of the appropriate authorities.
The hospital named and styled the “Oniyama Specialist and Teaching Hospital” is situated at the facilities that once accommodated the famous Bushrod Island Clinic.
The LMDC’s reaction came following a June 17, 2019 publication in the a local newspaper captioned “Oniyama Specialist and Teaching Hospital ‘Ready’ to Serve the Public.”
The local publication said in its report that “The famous Island Clinic, which is now the Oniyama Specialist and Teaching Hospital (OSTH) in the Saint Paul Bridge Community on the Bushrod Island has now opened its doors to the general public with at least eight specialist medical doctors coming in from Cuba to treat Liberians in its Out-Patient Department (OPD), which is now operational.”
Dr. Linda A. Birch, chairperson of LMDC, told reporters in an interview at her office at the compound of the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital Tuesday, June 18, 2019 that Oniyama is in gross violation of Liberia’s healthcare service provision’s regulations.
As such, he said the Oniyama Specialist and Teaching Hospital will be fined and subsequently ordered shut down if it fails to comply with the medical council regulations.
The LMDC chairperson disqualified the operation of OSTH, warning, “We want to let the public know that Oniyama has not met the criteria to even operate as a hospital. This information is misleading and should not be honored by the public. They have not been licensed by LMDC to operate.”
She said Oniyama once applied to the LMDC’s office for permission to begin healthcare service delivery, but as of the time the application was filed, it is yet to be finalized to allow its opening.
“LMDC has no knowledge of the existence of this institution,” she maintained, saying, “We are still in the discussion period with Oniyama and until all that is required of them are met, they have no right to operate as a hospital before we even talk about operating a school.”
It can be recalled that the June 17 publication of the local daily that OSTH pronounced that with the coming in the country of specialized medical doctors, including one oncologist, and a urologist at the same time, Liberians who, most often, travel abroad to seek advanced medical attention will now save their traveling expenses and visit the Oniyama Hospital.
According to Wikipedia, an oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer. The field of oncology has three major areas, including medical, surgical, and radiation. A medical oncologist treats cancer using chemotherapy or other medications, such as targeted therapy or immunotherapy.
Wikipedia also defines urologist as is a physician who specializes in diseases of the urinary tract and the male reproductive system. It says that patients may be referred to an urologist if their physician suspects they may need treatment for a condition relating to bladder, urethra, ureters, kidneys, and adrenal glands.
Dr. Birch said that critical medical conditions such as cancer and urinary tract diseases are not as simple as malaria for which someone claiming to be a specialist in either of them should choose to practice anywhere in the country without being properly vetted by the LMDC.
Reports quoted the country director of Partner Liberia, Inc. founder of Oniyama Teaching Hospital, as saying that a Cuban internal medicine specialist, Dr. Mercedes Sotto who has worked in a number of countries around for a little 24 years is in Liberia to help provide advanced medical care at Oniyama.
The reports further noted that Dr. Joe Daweah who is also the administrator of Oniyama disclosed in the interview that two of eight other Cuban doctors are also in in the country are expected anytime soon.
The publication listed ear, nose and throat diseases specialists as well as obstetrician and gynecologists (doctors who are specialized in dealing with women’s sicknesses) are those expected to begin their respective works at Oniyama.
Other Cuban specialists named are internists or internal medicine specialists, pediatricians (doctors who specialize in dealing with children’s diseases), clinical pathologist and a laboratory scientist.
The publication noted also that Oniyama’s management is working out modalities to elevate to the modern standard the Oniyama Teaching Hospital by investing US$600,000.
With all the information provided about the presence of those foreign medical doctors and healthcare specialists, Dr. Birch said the LMDC’s regulation should in no way be ignored or violated by anyone in the name of helping the suffering masses of the country.