So it was especially difficult for Kaseje to learn that, after she left Liberia at the end of her assignment in March, there would be no new pediatric surgeon coming to replace her and keep the project running. Due to travel restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, MSF has had to sharply curtail the movement of international staff.
This new, global pandemic is truly unprecedented, and it's creating all kinds of new challenges for MSF. While our human resources teams scramble to get staff and supplies from point A to point B, our teams in the field are working hard to continue providing lifesaving services while also protecting our patients and staff from the deadly virus. In countries like South Africa, Bangladesh, and Greece, we are shifting some of our activities so we can treat people infected by the new coronavirus and help health systems respond.
MSF’s work in Liberia has also been greatly affected. Kaseje is concerned about the impact of the surgery program’s suspension, even though she knows her Liberian colleagues are resilient and well placed to contribute to the COVID-19 response.
A Model of Care
MSF opened this much needed pediatric hospital in 2015 during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which devastated the health care system and killed many of the country’s medical professionals. Soon, the hospital also became a site for training nurses. A main objective for the surgery program, which was added in 2018, was to train Liberian surgical residents and nurse anesthetists in order to build the capacity for specialized pediatric care within the national public health system.