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MSF in Liberia, 2006/2007
Field Staff: 1,634
Reason for Intervention:
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Four years after the end of its devastating civil war, Liberia is slowly beginning to recover, but many Liberians are struggling to find even basic services, including healthcare.
Improving the health of mothers and children is a main focus of MSF’s work in the country. Each month, more than 1,500 children are treated at Island and Benson hospitals in the capital, Monrovia. Benson Hospital also provides maternity care and obstetric surgery and runs a women’s health center that offers care before and after birth as well as family planning services. Also in Monrovia, two MSF-supported primary health clinics handle 12,000 curative consultations each month. A majority of the patients are pregnant women, new mothers and children. In Saclapea, Nimba County, MSF runs a special unit focusing on women’s health in connection to a larger health center with both outpatient and inpatient services. A new health structure with 30 beds is under construction and will be completed by the end of 2007.
Extensive sexual violence
Sexual violence continues to be a serious problem in Liberia. Between January and April 2007, MSF teams in Monrovia treated approximately 135 patients monthly. Over one third of these victims were younger than 12 years. Patients are provided with a medical certificate, a necessary requirement to bring a case to court.
Supporting cholera treatment
Cholera is common in Liberia, particularly in the capital, with outbreaks occurring annually. For several years, MSF has supported a cholera treatment center in Monrovia during outbreaks. At the height of the outbreak in 2006, MSF treated 120 patients a week. In March 2007, when cholera cases began to increase, MSF again began supporting the center. MSF had also responded to a cholera outbreak in Buchanan in August 2006, treating hundreds of patients.
Moving from relief to development As Liberia moves toward increased stability, humanitarian organizations including MSF, with the mandate of providing assistance in emergency situations, are beginning to leave the country. But Liberia’s public health services still require critical support and finding alternatives to humanitarian organizations is imperative. Days prior to an international donor conference in Washington D.C. in February, 2007, MSF released a report describing the healthcare situation in the country and outlining the challenges ahead.
Between December 2006 and July 2007, MSF gradually stopped working in health facilities in River Cess, Grand Bassa, Nimba and Lofa Counties. The majority of these facilities were handed over to the Liberian health authorities or to other NGOs. A treatment program for HIV patients in Nimba County was handed over to local health authorities in April 2007. MSF has also withdrawn from Mamba Point Hospital in Monrovia.
MSF has worked in Liberia since 1990.