882.124a/108: Telegram

The Chargé in Liberia (Reber) to the Secretary of State

159. The Legation has received from Dr. Smith a communication setting forth the present status of the sanitary campaign: (1) No funds available since May; (2) no execution of reforms as recommended in the sanitary report; (3) no access to the death records permitted by local authorities and [appealed] to the President to correct this without result. In view of the foregoing he adds that it has become necessary to forward to the Surgeon General the following telegram which I have requested be sent through the Legation in order that its contents not become public here at this time. The message for the Surgeon General reads as follows:

“Municipal government refused permission access to the monthly mortality records. Appeal to President without results. No funds available operating expenses since May 30. Recommend Liberian Government be requested employ their own sanitary officer. My time here wasted at expense United States Government. Smith.”

As yet no funds have been made available nor have any of the suggested reforms been put into effect. The President has stated to me that the bill establishing the Department of Public Health is now before the Legislature and that upon its approval he will issue the necessary orders to carry out the program as agreed upon. It does not appear, however, that the provision for the investment of sanitary [Page 435] inspectors with police authority, or the appointment of a sanitary judge, should be dependent upon the acceptance of this bill which merely creates a national health service.

The present memorandum of agreement expires on December 21. No provision has been made for its renewal, although the President in his note of September 3013 proposed the establishment of a permanent and effective sanitary program and stated to me that he desired to extend the agreement. Reference in this connection is made to the earlier rejection of the offer of the services of a competent sanitary engineer. In view of the foregoing does the Department desire that I suggest its extension on the following terms: sanitary engineer to be paid a salary by the Liberian Government, to be clothed with ample authority and provided with sufficient funds to carry out the program of sanitary reform.

In order that this authority may be admitted it may be well to insist upon the inclusion of the provisions similar to those outlined in the Department’s telegram No. 77, September 12, 6 p.m.

Without the conclusion of some such arrangement it will be difficult to insist upon the furtherance of a comprehensive program of sanitary reform agreed to by the Liberian Government but which it does not appear desirous of bringing about.

  1. See telegram No. 133, September 30, 11 p.m., from the Chargé in Liberia, p. 353.