An anti-Ebola volunteer of the Catholic Church, Dr. Tim Flanigan has expressed strong optimism that Liberia will soon overcome Ebola.
Professor Flannigan, a specialist on Infectious Disease at the prestigious Brown University in Rhode Island, USA, who has worked in Liberia as a volunteer with the Catholic Church’s Ebola Response Team, made the assertion recently in Monrovia.
He stated that he was personally touched by the commitment of the people of Liberia and their local and international partners in combating the Ebola virus disease (EVD), adding that the virus will soon be history.
“Liberia went through the war, which was worst than Ebola. So I think you will defeat this disease. Liberians are poor and have few health workers but the country is very rich in faith, prayer, and desire to succeed against the outbreak,” he observed.
Dr. Flanigan, who is also an ordained Deacon in the Church, arrived in Monrovia early September at the invitation of the Catholic Church. Since his arrival, he has been an asset in the fight against the disease, said Sr. Barbara Brillant FMM, Coordinator of the Catholic Church’s Ebola Response Program.
“We are very happy to have Dr. Tim with us. He has been leading and conducting training and education sessions at Catholic health facilities, communities, parishes, schools, and other places like Buchanan. He has been an asset.”
Dr. Tim played critical liaison role with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, CDC, visited Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) and related well with other organizations on behalf of the Catholic Church.
During his tenure of volunteerism, the Catholic Ebola Response Team was involved in three main activities. The first was to split the awareness and sensitization intervention into three teams: Team One was for Health Centers and Clinics (including the Catholic Hospital and the TB and Leprosy Center in Ganta) and Team Two focused on Community Outreach (worked with youth groups to do Ebola prevention in communities and parishes) while Team Three coordinated and worked with school principals and teachers to prepare for school opening.
The second activity focused on undertaking an assessment of Catholic Clinics in the Monrovia area as a prerequisite for reopening of the facilities: Star of the Sea Clinic, Bishop John Collins Clinic, Sr. Barbara Ann Health Center, Sr. Agnes Clinic as well as the St. Peter’s Claver in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
The third activity entailed the provision of donated materials and PPE (personnel protective equipment) and Clorox and helping the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in organizing training for its reopening.
Asked about his personal experiences in the fight against Ebola, Dr. Flanigan said: “With Ebola, sometimes patients and health workers feel abandoned because we try not to touch them. The health care workers did not have enough PPE, but are committed to helping the patients and be as safe as possible. We need to always stand by them”
Dr. Flanigan, who departs Liberia early November for USA, said he was pleased to have volunteered with the Church and will always have fond memories of the people and country. He lauded the Catholic Church for inviting him and thanked Liberians for receiving and working with him well. He will be happy to come back if the opportunity affords him. He hoped that the new Doctor, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary Catholic Nun from Kenya, who has come to join the anti-Ebola crusade will receive similar support.
The Catholic Church in Liberia in early September scaled up its fight against the Ebola Disease Virus (EVD) with the mobilization of increased human, medical and logistical resources to put a halt to the virus, protect the people, and ensure the smooth operations of Catholic health centers around the country. Dr. Tim Flanigan has been a formidable member of that effort.