By Alloycious David (Freelance Journalist)
On Friday, October 19, 2018, the United States Agency International Development’s (USAID) Liberia Mission Director, Dr. Anthony Chan, officially turned over to the Ministry of Health (MoH) a modern Infectious Disease Outpatient Clinic situated on the JFK Medical Center compound.
The former Chest Clinic was renovated by John Snow Research and Training Institute, Incorporated (JSI), with funding from USAID at the cost of over US$150,000.
In his message during the ceremony, Dr. Chan, said that the clinic will play a front-line role in the country’s efforts to enhance its disease prevention and control efforts. Dr. Chan added, “If there is one overriding lesson we learned from the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak, it is that early detection and prevention systems are critical to halting the spread of infectious diseases.”
He said that the clinic will be used to isolate patients with suspected infectious illnesses such as the Ebola virus disease (EVD), Lassa fever, Meningitis, tuberculosis and others for diagnosis, treatment and care. “The clinic will also provide a place where patients can come for care without fear that they will be stigmatized or discriminated against because of their illness,” Chan said.
He further remarked that the facility will ultimately contribute to the early warning system that Liberia needs to quickly identify and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Dr. Chan then lauded authorities at the MoH and the JFK Medical Center for working closely with the implementing partner, JSI, to improve access to health services for Ebola survivors.
In addition to the renovation of the Infectious Disease Outpatient Clinic, the Ebola Transmission Prevention and Survivor Services (ETP&SS) program implemented by the JSI has supported renovations in other health facilities in several counties, including renovations of the emergency room triage area and expansion of the eye clinic to enhance these functions at Redemption Hospital in Montserrado County; installation of a perimeter fence at the Dolo Town Health Center in Lower Margibi County to protect unauthorized entry into the health center, enhance proper patient triage, and reinforce infection, prevention and control practices; renovations of the medical laboratory at the Tellewoyan Hospital in Voinjama, to improve diagnostic services.
Other activities the JSI undertook include: establishment of a year round water source for Kolahun Hospital, Kolahun by drilling of a 295-foot borehole, installation of a submersible pump powered by a solar panels, and construction of a water tower with 10,000 liter tank capacity; established a rainwater harvesting system and completion of two hand-dug wells at the Foya Boma Hospital, to provide complementary water sources to the hospital’s existing borehole. Tellewoyan, Kolahun and Boma hospitals are located in Lofa County.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Francis Nah Kateh, thanked USAID for refurbishing the infectious disease outpatient clinic. He described the site as historical, “Because it was where the government constructed the first Ebola Treatment Unit in 2014.
Dr. Kateh expressed gratitude that the site has now being turned into a place where people will be treated for infectious diseases and to JSI Research and Training Institute for a “job well done.”
JFK’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Dama Yekerson-Koffa, also thanked USAID and JSI for the project, which she described as a valuable contribution to efforts being made to improve quality of health care provided at the JFK Medical Center.
Madam Yekerson-Koffa recalled that when they took over the management of the JFK Medical Center in February, the Chest Clinic was in a very bad condition with almost everything, including its toilets, looted or in disrepair. She reiterated that the current leadership of the hospital wants to make a JFK Medical Center the hospital of choice for everyone.
Jeff Sanderson, JSI’s technical team leader for the ETP&SS program in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, opened the ceremony by welcoming the participants, and outlining some of the key objectives of the program, while also noting some of the variations.
For example, while the two countries focused on direct clinical services for survivors, Guinea focused on establishing a health status surveillance system.
Like Liberia, the Guinea program also provided infrastructure support to health facilities. Within the Regional Program, JSI developed a toolkit that can be accessed on line [www.advancingpartners.org/ebola-toolkit.]
Mr. Sanderson expressed JSI gratitude to USAID for their support for this program, and to the MoH for the opportunity afforded JSI to contribute to the building of a resilient health system in Liberia.
He also thanked the JSI/Liberia staffs for the good work they continue to do.
Dr. Rose Jallah Macauley, Chief of Party, thanked the MoH for the continued partnership with JSI, and also expressed thanks and appreciations to the JFK Administration for their collaboration throughout the renovation.