Hope in Hell

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  • Endemic/epidemic disease
  • Social violence/health care exclusion

Liberia: Latest MSF Updates


Ebola in Liberia—A Humanitarian Crisis

Our Work

This is an excerpt from MSF's 2015 International Activity Report:

The Ebola epidemic in Liberia was almost over in 2015, but the country still needs support to deal with any new outbreaks that occur and to help rebuild the health system.

The health situation in Liberia was precarious even before the Ebola outbreak, but the country was brought to its knees by the epidemic. Many hospitals closed in 2014 and have not yet reopened, and it is estimated that eight per cent of health workers in the country died from the virus, while others have never returned to work. MSF is supporting the Ministry of Health to improve access to healthcare.

Liberia was declared Ebola free in May 2015, but new cases were reported in July and November. As part of the Ministry of Health’s national plan, MSF organised training sessions on Rapid Isolation and Treatment for Ebola teams in four districts of the country, and in certain health centers in Monrovia supported the improvement of infection prevention and control measures by, for example, setting up isolation areas.

In March, MSF handed over an Ebola transit unit in Monrovia to the International Rescue Committee, and in May, the Ebola treatment center (ETC) to the Ministry of Health. During the first few months of the year, the transit unit team diagnosed patients, and isolated and referred them to an ETC if necessary; 81 patients were triaged and seven were diagnosed as having Ebola.

It is estimated that there are around 1,000 Ebola survivors in Monrovia and Montserrado County, who suffer from joint pain and eye problems and also have to contend with being ostracised by their community. MSF therefore opened a survivors’ clinic in Monrovia in January, which currently provides outpatient and mental health consultations, and referrals to more than 500 people. In addition, the team treats patients who do not have certificates from ETCs and so are not formally identified as survivors; these people have even more difficulty accessing medical care.

Pediatric Care in Monrovia

Approximately 17 per cent of Monrovia’s population of 1.4 million are aged under five. As pediatric wards and hospitals closed during the Ebola outbreak, MSF opened the 74-bed Bardnesville Junction pediatric hospital in April to try and address some of the subsequent gaps in specialized care for young children. The facility comprises a 10-bed intensive care unit, an emergency room, a neonatal unit, a therapeutic feeding center and an inpatient ward. At the end of the year, the capacity of the hospital was increased to 91 beds.

Measles Response

A measles outbreak was declared in Monrovia at the beginning of 2015, and in March MSF organised a two-day vaccination campaign in Peace Island district which reached 542 children. Due to the continued risk of Ebola, MSF chose small sites for the campaign and followed strict infection prevention and control measures. This protocol was replicated in May when the Ministry of Health ran a countrywide vaccination campaign, which was supported by MSF.

At the end of 2015, MSF had 535 field staff in Liberia. MSF first worked in the country in 1990.

Patient Story

Alexander Kollie—his son was MSF ’s 1,000th Ebola survivor

“I noticed my son looking more tired than usual. I was worried about him. He didn’t have any symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, but he just looked tired. I called the Ebola hotline and MSF brought him to their Ebola care center here in Foya to be tested . . . When the test came back positive, it was a night of agony for me . . . After some time, my son started doing much better. He was moving around. I prayed that he would be free of Ebola and test negative, but I was worried that his eyes were still red. I just wanted us to be together again. Then something amazing happened, something I could not actually believe until I saw it. Until that moment I saw him coming outside, I could not truly believe that it would happen. I’ve seen people with Ebola start to look strong and then the next day, they’re just gone. So I was also thinking, maybe Kollie will be one of those who will be gone the next day. When finally I saw him come out, I felt so very, very happy. I looked at him and he said to me, 'Pa, I am well'“

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