It is indeed welcome news to the outside world that the Ebola Virus Disease which devastated Liberia, bringing her to her knees, is now virtually wiped out of the country with the last confirmed patient’s death more than three weeks ago.
As Liberians retrospect on last year, many are expressing thanks to local health authorities and caregivers, and especially the international community, including medical organizations and individuals, who came to Liberia’s defense to help defeat the deadly virus.
Several institutions highly grateful for the level of support received from their international partners are health care facilities in Lofa County, specifically the Foya-Borma Hospital, which, during the heat of the crisis, benefited from a donation of a 40-foot container of Ebola specific logistics relief supplies and medical equipment from three US-based organizations.
The Container Project was an initiative of the Friends of Foya-Borma Hospital (FOFBH) of Indiana, in collaboration with the Association of Citizens and Friends of Liberia (ACFLi) of Sacramento, California and the Liberian Association of Northern California (LANC). The relief supplies and medical equipment were valued at US$200,000.
The Administrator of Foya-Borma Hospital, Mr. Francis Forndia, and the administrators of the other healthcare facilities in Lofa County thanked the funding organizations, FOFBH, ACFLi, LANC, and other contributors.
In an interview with the Daily Observer’s Health Desk, Mr. Forndia said, “This donation could not have come at any better time. We were devastated and we needed help. Our county, being the epicenter of the crisis, was in desperate need of assistance. And we will remain forever grateful to our brothers and sisters, who saw the need to identify with us when we were confused and distressed."
The Foya-Borma Hospital Administrator also lauded MedShare, a leading US medical supply recovery organization, which has its headquarters in San Leandro, California; the United Parcel Services (UPS), which provided the transportation for the shipment of the container to Foya, and the Permanente Group of Central Valley, California, which provided funding for the project.
“We really want to say a ‘Big Thank You’ to all these people. Their help was very instrumental in finally controlling and eradicating the virus from this county,” he said, adding that “additional funding was also provided by various members of the above organizations, friends as well as business organizations.”
Mr. Forndia disclosed that the container project was the “dream come true” of Dr. Mary Zozulin, an Ob-GYN in Waterbury, Connecticut, who worked at the Foya-Borma Hospital. “This Lady was actually one of those who initiated the entire process,” Forndia added.
Dr. Zozulin had gone to Foya because her daughter, Kristen, was assigned there as a Peace Corp Volunteer. Dr. Zozulin and her daughter were forced to leave Liberia as a result of the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic. This was after the virus had taken the lives of five healthcare workers at the hospital. They included three nurses, a nurse’s aide and a laboratory aid.
Upon her return to the USA, Dr. Zozulin felt the need to help the people of Foya. She got in touch with FOFBH to help coordinate a medical supply shipment for the people of Lofa. With her help they filed an application with MedShare for medical supplies for the hospital.
At the same time in Sacramento, California, ACFLi had established the “Kick Ebola out of Liberia,” campaign. Along with LANC, the two organizations initiated a fund drive to send Ebola-related medical supplies to the epicenter of the virus, which coincidentally happened to be Foya, Lofa County. When they approached MedShare, through Mr. Andrew Pines, the Executive Director, he informed them about an initiative by another organization, FOFBH, which had undergone a complete application process but was constrained by limited funding. Mr. Pines suggested that they could collaborate and provide the necessary funding in time so that they could all take advantage of an Emergency Ebola Shipment available only to Liberia. This was the beginning of the joint venture between FOFBH, ACFLi and LANC.
Although the donation was intended directly for Foya-Borma Hospital, several other health care facilities in the county benefitted substantially. The other health care facilities that benefited from this generosity are Telewoyen Hospital in Voinjama, Kolahun Health Facility, the Currant Lutheran Hospital in Zorzor and the Yekpedu Clinic. Others are Limgbamba Clinic, Foya Tangia, Gbemah Clinic, Worsornga Clinic, Solormba Clinic, Shelloe Clinic and Mendekorma Clinic.
“We alone could not use all those medical supplies, therefore, along with the other county authorities we decided to distribute some of the medical supplies to the other health centers in the county. These were highly appreciated because they too were in dire need,” Forndia stated.
He lauded Lofa County Superintendent George Dunor and the County Health Officer (CHO), Dr. Josephus Bolongei, for their efforts in getting the container to Liberia and subsequently, to the intended destination of Lofa County.
These gentlemen played a pivotal role in ensuring that the Container Project became a local and international success story. They provided the necessary guarantee to the donor agencies, that they would obtain all duty-free privileges and that the Container would be received and delivered to the Foya-Borma Hospital at no additional cost to the donor agency. They, along with the Foya-Borma Hospital Administrator, Forndia, worked assiduously in making sure that the container reached Foya in a timely and secure manner especially during the Ebola crisis.
Forndia noted that the success of this project proves that Liberian organizations can indeed collaborate, and be reliable, successful and in the end make a difference when it comes to the welfare of the Liberian people.
Some of those who worked very hard to make the project a success, according to Mr. Forndia, include Narwale Washington-Agborsangaya, President of ACFLi and Chairlady of Keep Ebola out of Liberia Campaign, Sam Koaloe, ACFLi Board Chairman, J. Mwah Polson, Senior Advisor to the President; James King, Advisor to the President on Logistics; and, Dr. Goffa Beh, Advisor to the President on Medical Affairs.
Others were Paul Boakai, the President of LANC, Zoe Butcher-Washington, Chairlady of the Board of Directors of LANC, the president, secretary and treasurer of FOFBH, Dr. Nathaniel Samba, James F. Salifu and Mr. Sahr A. A. Nyorkor respectively. Members of the Board of Directors for FOBH are William S. Kamanda, MD, Daniel Saah MD, Mr. Henry Hali, and Mr. Saah Kanda.
“We are indeed grateful, and fully acknowledge the untiring efforts of all the people and organizations here named and unnamed that contributed directly and indirectly to the successful and total eradication of the national tragedy and crisis called EBOLA from our dear Homeland Liberia over the last one year,” said Forndia.
Shelloe Clinic, one of the local clinics, which received some of the donated items, has a catchment of 6,574. The Officer in Charge, Mr. Jallah K. Baysah, said, “This is true love. We are very grateful to the donors that came through Foya-Borma Hospital. We receive in good faith and will use the donations for the health of our people. Freely we have received and freely we will give.”