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04 February 2015

Ebola: Stabilise primary health care in Liberia

Press release: Cologne, February 4, 2015. “We welcome the appeal from the German Development Minister Gerd Müller to establish effective healthcare systems in countries such as Liberia, ensuring access to medical provision for everyone,” explains Sybille Fezer, Liberia Program Manager at the women’s rights organisation medica mondiale. In Liberia, stable medical infrastructure is only possible if doctors receive good education and training, which means the universities need to be equipped appropriately. However, the Medical Faculty at the University of Liberia has been repeatedly threatened with closure because of insufficient resources.

Ms Fezer also insists that medical training needs to include basic knowledge of the effects which traumatic experiences have on a person's health. Recently, many people in the country have suffered retraumatisation as the Ebola epidemic, worsening security, families being torn apart and the large numbers of fatalities all reawaken memories from the war-torn period. So it is essential for all these factors to be considered during the training of medical staff in order to prevent long-term health risks and new violent conflicts.

This is why medica mondiale is demanding the following from the German government and World Health Organisation:

  • long-term commitment to (re-)establishing the healthcare systems
  • sufficient resources to fit out the medical faculty appropriately and ensure Liberia is not indefinitely dependent on outside aid
  • investment in the infrastructure needed to enable access to the health service in rural areas
  • psychosocial and trauma counselling for the population
  • an improvement in obstetrics in order to decrease the high maternal mortality rates, which are even higher in times of crisis.

medica mondiale is calling on the German Federal Government and the World Health Organisation to provide long-term assistance building up the healthcare system in Liberia

The staff at medica mondiale Liberia form a 'protection team' to contribute towards the efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola in the country. Its duties include:

  • public awareness work
  • distributing hygiene items and food packets for families under quarantine and Ebola survivors
  • trauma-sensitive psychological emergency aid and counselling for affected families to cope with their grief
  • psychological assistance for healthcare professionals, relief organisation employees and burial teams

Additionally, medica mondiale Liberia is assisting a women's hospital in Monrovia, thus ensuring urgent medical care continues to be provided to pregnant women and mothers giving birth, despite the national health crisis.

The Director of medica mondiale Liberia, Caroline Bowah Brown, regularly reports on the current situation in her country in a blog.