The international aid agency, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has opened a new pediatric hospital in Monrovia. The opening was done last Monday, March 23.
This new development from the international medical humanitarian organization comes after they had closed down their Ebola operations in the country. They opened the facility in order to assist the local health system in safely restoring medical services.
The Children’s Hospital is located on Bardnesville Road, Gardnersville. The facility only admits pediatric emergencies referred from a community health clinic and does not provide external consultations. Surgery and treatment for chronic diseases such as HIV or tuberculosis are also not available.
“The Ebola outbreak has extremely weakened the public health services in Liberia. We saw people dying simply because they could not access timely medical care” said Philippe Le Vaillant, MSF Head of mission in Liberia. “They were usually suffering from illnesses like severe malaria or typhoid. Pregnant women facing obstetrical complications also have suffered the same fate.”
Although Ebola management centers are now in sufficient number in Liberia, people still struggle to access regular public health services. Today most medical facilities have reopened, though with a level of activity lower than before the outbreak. Many patients are still reluctant to go in search of care.
After consulting with the Ministry of Health, MSF decided to open the new pediatric hospital to increase the capacity to treat non-Ebola related medical emergencies in Monrovia. This 24/7 hospital has opened with 46 beds for children under 5 years with the capacity to extend up to 100 beds. Reinforced protocols of infection prevention and control have been implemented to protect the staff and the patients from any potential Ebola contamination.
“A thorough triage process, additional protective equipment, more space between beds, reinforced decontamination and waste management procedures have been put in place to keep staff and patients safe,” says Dr. Myriam Deguillen, MSF Hospital Director. “It’s essential to restore the confidence in the medical system for health professionals and patients. Their safety is our main concern.”
“Ebola has done so much damage in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone because of weak health systems” adds Philippe Le Vaillant. “Significant improvements, especially in terms of infection control and epidemiological surveillance, are urgently needed to reach and maintain higher quality standards.”
About MSF in Liberia
MSF has been running the Ebola Treatment Centre ELWA 3 in Monrovia since August 2014 and a transit unit for suspected Ebola patients at Redemption Hospital since November. MSF Center in Foya was closed last December after Lofa County was officially declared Ebola-free. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 670 patients have survived Ebola within a MSF facility in Liberia.
MSF Rapid Response Teams have also been recently deployed in Grand Bassa, Grand cape Mount and Margibi Counties in order to help health authorities responding to local outbreaks.
MSF has been assisting James David Junior (JDJ) Memorial Hospital in Paynesville in upgrading the free pediatric and maternal services up to standards that now take Ebola into account. MSF has also supported 23 health clinics in Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount Counties in implementing safer practices.