Bartum Nyakwettee Kulah Sr. MD, MBA
I witnessed Dr Benedict Kolee’s exchange with Spoon Talk panelists and felt the need to write this letter to the editors of major newspapers in Liberia so that the Liberian people will start putting things right in perspective.
While awaiting the outcome of the second autopsy, I hope the press and citizens will begin to ask for the proper investigative tools that will help distinguish between homicide, suicide, and natural death; because of multiple “strange deaths”; which have continued to occur since the death of: Mr. Harry Greaves, Mr. Matthew Innis, Headmaster Nyensuah, Mrs. Betty Lama, Odell Sherman, the disappearance of the three boys and others.
You have to understand that in Liberia and along the west coast of Africa, they don’t have the luxury of having sub-specialties. Usually these countries have one or maybe two general pathology doctors in the country: who would do forensic, anatomical and clinical pathology. On the other hand, in the United States, we have the resources and the population to support sub-specialties such as: forensic medicine, otolaryngology, gastroenterology, urology, cardiology, nephrology, endocrinology, hepatology, hematology/oncology, orthopedic surgery, vascular surgery, hand surgery and microsurgery, transplant surgery, neurosurgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, etc.
Before President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf commissioned a study in 2013, on how to improve health care delivery; Liberia had mainly general practitioners working in the country; but now we have: Pathologists, OB/GYN, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatrists, a Neurosurgeon etc.
In fact, contrary to the impression given by Keff Hassan of Spoon Talk, the government of Liberia, through the Liberian College of Physicians and Surgeons, has been sending our doctors out of the country for specialization since 2013. The first head of the program , Dr. Stephen Kennedy can attest to this, and there are documents online to prove this fact. Additionally, the first neurosurgeon, Dr. Alvin Doe Nah, was trained by Dr. Paul K. King, an Atlanta neurosurgeon and other members of the Kor Le Bu Neuroscience Foundation, at the time Dr. Kateh ran the Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital in Tapita.
You all need to understand that for a resource-strapped nation with competing priorities, as well as misplaced priorities (paying legislators $15,000.00, giving them $45,000.00 for vehicles every 3 years, and 30 $000.00 twice, to be spent at will; the budgets of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, the budgets of the President, the Vice President and the First Lady are tens of millions of dollars respectively and millions of dollars), you must realize that the nation has failed to effectively fund health care and the Liberian National Police. Therefore, you will not find an oncologist, ENT, vascular or just a medical examiner in Liberia. This is currently not practical.
Yet the Liberian National Police does not appear to have a forensic laboratory, crime scene investigators who: collect samples, analyze blood spatter, analyze fingerprints; or the real detective work of determining the difference between homicide, suicide or natural death. So, I believe your anger and frustrations are misplaced.
Also, I strongly believe that Dr. Kolee did a very professional job in determining the cause of death. It was left to the police to carry out further investigations, in both cases, to determine whether there were any aggravating or intervening circumstances.
Moreover, in all the cases that we have called “strange deaths”, the failure to clearly convince the Liberian people, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is the result of a nation that has no faith in its government; and the lack of logistics and adequate training of the PNL Homicide Unit.
I believe Dr. Kolee got emotional on Spoon Talk, because he was a little angry at Dr. Francien Chenoweth’s disrespect; who did not disclose that she was involved in the Odell Sherman case and sent Dr. Rockefeller Cooper to Liberia; even after being told he was not a medical examiner.
In addition, Stanton Witherspoon, who censors some Liberians who criticize his escapades, and the fact that he plays cat and mouse with the Liberian population, on the one hand, and President Weah, chief of staff MacGill and minister of Finance Tweah, on the other hand; failed to ask the right questions and hire its managers/owners, mentioned above, to equip the LNP with a forensic laboratory, crime scene investigators and detectives. properly trained homicide.
My people, please leave Dr. Kolee alone. He and other Liberian professionals are doing their best, given the circumstances.
May the souls of our fallen citizens rest in peace!
And may Liberia rise again!