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MSF in Liberia, 2005
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Although Liberia's bloody civil conflict has ended and a transitional government was created in 2003, most Liberians continue to struggle for their very survival. A shortage of health personnel, particularly in rural areas, leaves many people without basic health care. As a result, Liberians suffer from high rates of preventable diseases and poor maternal and child health.
Improving access to primary and secondary health care services is at the heart of MSF's work in Liberia. In November 2003, MSF opened Mamba Point Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia's capital, which is located in Montserrado county. During 2004, the MSF team carried out more than 1,650 operations there. Respiratory infections and malaria were the main causes of hospitalization, and nearly half of all operations were related to childbirth. MSF staff assisted 150-200 births per month in 2004. MSF is fully supporting Redemption Hospital and its annex, Island Hospital which admit more than 1,200 patients monthly. MSF is renovating Redemption Hospital and increasing its bed capacity.
An MSF team is also working at the city's Benson Hospital, a women's and children's facility. Patients receive outpatient medical consultations (including gynecological and obstetrical care), reproductive health care including treatment of sexually transmitted infections, nutritional screenings and immunizations for children. The Benson Hospital inpatient facility provides emergency care; gynecological, obstetric and pediatric care; and an operating theatre. The organization also fully supports five clinics in Monrovia. In addition to providing direct health care, MSF supplies drugs and medical materials, gives administrative and logistical support, trains local health personnel and maintains water and sanitation facilities at the clinics.
In the northern part of the country, MSF offers basic health care in western Lofa county. Through its two hospitals in Foya and Kolahun, the MSF team provides primary and secondary health care services, including treatment for malaria and tuberculosis.
Security conditions have improved in 2005 and many residents have already returned or are currently returning to the area, increasing demand for MSF services. MSF supports several health structures in Grand Bassa county, in west-central Liberia, carrying out an average of 800 consultations per month at each of three clinics. A fourth clinic opened in July 2005. In addition, the MSF team treats malnourished children at its therapeutic feeding center in Buchanan. The center provides daytime nutritional support to an estimated 40 children per month, while an additional 250 moderately malnourished children are fed each week through a broader supplementary feeding program.
MSF is active in Nimba county in northeastern Liberia, supporting the GW Harley Hospital in Sanniquellie and clinics in four towns. Health posts are staffed by MSF in an additional two towns. In River Cess county in western Liberia, MSF supports the St. Francis Health Center and the Sayah town clinic, where an average of 1,000 patients are seen each month. In Grand Gedeh county, in the southeast, MSF works in a 50-bed hospital.
In May 2005, MSF closed a therapeutic feeding center and weekly supplementary feeding program in Bushrod Island, Montserrado county. During 2004, when the need was acute, MSF treated more than 4,500 children there.
Helping the displaced
During the recent years of armed conflict in Liberia, MSF has responded to health needs in displaced-persons camps. In Montserrado county, MSF runs clinics in three camps, Seigbeh, Ricks and Plumcor, where an estimated 30,000 people are living. MSF carries out approximately 7,500 consultations per month.
MSF is also working in a camp in Saclepea in Nimba county, where both internally displaced Liberians and refugees (mostly from Côte d'Ivoire) live. In addition to running a field clinic that carries out about 3,500 consultations a month, MSF is supporting two health posts. Mobile health teams travel to surrounding locations.
Until the summer of 2005, when many displaced people returned home, MSF provided clean water and medical services in two camps in Bong county: Maimu and Totota. The organization will continue to work in a third, Salala, where approximately 15,000 displaced people live, until its closure, possibly at the end of 2005. The MSF team set up outpatient clinics in each camp as well as a central hospital, and until November 2004 ran a therapeutic feeding center to help malnourished children. For both camp residents and people from surrounding communities, MSF performed more than 100,000 consultations at the clinics and referred most of the surgical cases to its hospitals in Monrovia.
In Liberia, sexual violence is a serious problem. MSF integrates care for those who have suffered abuse in most of its projects there. MSF cares for those who were victimized during the protracted conflict as well as for people — mostly women and children — who continue to face sexual assault. MSF also raises awareness among national health staff and is working to build a network to give continued support to victims of sexual violence.
Responding to emergencies
MSF responds throughout Liberia to outbreaks of disease, such as cholera, which is endemic. In one week alone, in June 2005, more than 100 cases were identified in Monrovia. MSF responded by assisting at the cholera-treatment unit of the John F. Kennedy Hospital.
MSF has worked in Liberia since 1990.