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MSF in Liberia, 2010
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After 14 years of civil war ended in 2003, Liberia’s government embarked on the enormous task of rebuilding the country’s health systems. In 2010, after 20 years of emergency healthcare provision in Liberia, MSF closed its final two hospitals and the Ministry of Health took over responsibility for the services that MSF had been providing. Today, MSF remains in the country to provide comprehensive medical and psychological care for survivors of sexual violence.
During the civil war, MSF provided emergency medical care and humanitarian assistance in many of the 15 counties in Liberia. Since the end of the war in 2003, the organisation has been gradually handing over its activities. In June 2010, MSF finalised the handover of its last two hospitals in Monrovia, the capital. On average, MSF treated more than 20,000 women and children each year in these two hospitals.
On Bushrod Island, a very densely populated area of Monrovia, MSF ran the 150-bed Island hospital. The hospital provided neonatal intensive care and maternal emergency services, as well as offering treatment for chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS and responding to medical emergencies in the area. In response to a measles outbreak in 2010, staff set up a tent within the hospital and treated more than 550 patients.
Benson hospital was opened in 2003, in an eastern suburb of Monrovia known as Paynesville, which is mainly home to displaced people who had come to the city in search of refuge from the conflict. The hospital provided a full range of services and housed the largest care programme for sexual and gender-based violence in Liberia. Between 2007 and 2008, with improvements in the national health system, MSF handed over many of its services and concentrated on specialist paediatric, gynaecological and obstetric care. From January to April 2010, more than 1,560 children received free medical care in Benson hospital and some 320 babies were delivered. The Ministry of Health has now taken over these services too.
MSF has set up a new hospital (James N. Davies Junior Memorial Hospital) in Jacob Town Neezoe, Paynesville, and donated it to the Ministry of Health. This should help to ensure that the closure of Benson and Bushrod Island hospitals does not create major gaps in healthcare provision. MSF also added 80 beds to the paediatric department and increased support to the paediatric services available in Monrovia’s main public hospital, Redemption hospital, by providing training, staff and medicines.
In July 2010, MSF began a new project in Monrovia in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, providing free care to survivors of sexual violence in two health centres. The programme provides comprehensive care, including medical treatment, psychological care and legal support. In 2010, staff treated more than 720 patients, 89 per cent of whom were under 18 years of age.
MSF has worked in Liberia since 1990.