Recounting the circumstances of postwar Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on Sunday explained at a commencement convocation in Massachusetts that she took over a country badly ravished and in need of delivery.
“The economy was in ruins, and our health sector, like all others, was not spared the destruction that engulfed the country during the civil upheaval,” she told graduates of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts.
“The health infrastructure—of hospitals, health centers and clinics—was destroyed or badly damaged, and the delivery of basic health services was almost non-existent,” President Sirleaf lamented in her address.
She said, at the time only 41 percent of the Liberian people lived with one-hour walking distance of a health facility, most of them in urban areas.
“In a country of 3.5 million at the time, there were only 354 health facilities. The entire health workforce was 3,966, health professionals having fled the country.”
“Only six of our 15 administrative political subdivisions had at least one medical doctor; the rest had none. In more ways than one, we inherited a wounded country, with dysfunctional institutions. Far beyond the physical destruction and deprivation, we inherited a house that had been divided against itself. Liberia stood in dire need of healing,” President Sirleaf informed her American audience.