Medical professionals needed in Liberia
Liberia is now in a period of peace and reconstruction after years of intermittent and violent civil war. More than 250,000 people were killed when Charles Taylor launched a rebellion against the military regime of Samuel Doe during the 1990's. Years of conflict displaced 600,000 of the country’s three million inhabitants and caused widespread human suffering.
The civil conflict ended in 2003 but many people still face challenges. Liberia has the fifth-highest under-five mortality rate in the world. The rate of HIV infection is steadily increasing and access to health care is limited. Liberia's population is nearly four million, but there are only 120 doctors and three dentists in the entire country. There is a great need for professional medical training, dental care, primary health care and community health education.
Our work and successes in Liberia
Medical Teams International sent its first volunteer team to Liberia in September, 2003 after Charles Taylor fled the country. During that time, it is estimated that 464,000 people were internally displaced because of the war. Basic services were disrupted and health facilities severely damaged.
Medical Teams International received a grant for an Emergency Health Care program from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for $441,500 in December 2003 and an extension grant in August 2004 for $871,600.
Our work with the Emergency Health Care program provided health care services for 590,000 people and provided direct medical services to more than 161,000 beneficiaries.
From 2006-2010, Medical Teams International partnered with the Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL) and the Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to implement a Child Survival Project (CSP) in Grand Cape Mount County. Funded by United States Agency for International Development, the 4 year USAID Child Survival Health Grants Program directly benefited 21,429 children under 5 years of age and 29,941 women of reproductive age in Grand Cape Mount County.
The CSP project supported Liberia's recently adopted program on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI), a proven approach to addressing the leading causes of child morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death). The project devoted 30 percent effort/funding to nutrition (including breastfeeding, maternal nutrition and micronutrients), 20 percent to pneumonia case management, 20% to controlling diarrheal disease, 10% to immunizations and 20 percent to malaria prevention and treatment. The project benefited the entire population (129,055 people) of Grand Cape Mount County. The October 2008 project midterm evaluation showed that the project met or exceeded midterm targets for 11 of 14 indicators (78%) in each of the project intervention areas. Of special interest is a reduction in child under-nutrition from 27.1% to 20.8%. As a result of collaboration with the President’s Malaria Initiative, more than two-thirds of children under age two are now sleeping under long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets.
The project has facilitated IMCI training for 42 health professionals and has conducted intensive follow-up and mentoring visits with those trained.
Medical Teams International implemented the Rebuilding Basic Health Services (RBHS) project from July 2009 – June 2012. In collaboration with the Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the project increased access to basic health care services in Grand Cape Mount, Bomi and Montserrado counties supported through a sub-grant from John Snow Incorporated (JSI). Project objectives were: 1) Improved delivery of Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) by strengthening management of health facilities and outreach services and introducing quality assurance, supervision measures and community financing; 2) Expansion of selected services to communities by building the capacity of the County Health Teams, Community Health and Development Committees and Community Health Volunteers to implement the BPHS; and 3) Strengthened capacity of Grand Cape Mount, Bomi and Montserrado CHTs to manage a decentralized health system and BPHS. The project supported implementation of BPHS at 25 health facilities (22 health clinics and 3 health centers) and improve the health of 142,749 people living in communities.
From January, 2011 through June, 2012, MTI implemented a Maternal and Child Health Project in Garwula District of Grand Cape Mount County. The project served 41 communities to help improve birth outcomes by encouraging healthy nutrition of mothers and increasing the use of prenatal, health facility delivery and postnatal care services. This low-cost/high-impact project was implemented through peer education at the household level by training mothers and linking them to skilled resources at the clinic/government level. MTI reached 6,458 women of reproductive age and impacted the health of their estimated 3,180 newborns.
Medical Teams International has deployed 48 teams of volunteer medical and dental professionals to Liberia since 2003. Our volunteers have provided direct medical and dental services, improved access to primary health care and built the capacity of local health care providers. Volunteers have worked with personnel from the Ministry of Health, Liberian physicians, nurses, dental hygienists and pharmacy technicians. We operate a main office in the capital city of Monrovia and a sub-office in Grand Cape Mount County.
Plans for 2012 – 2013
We will continue our partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Grand Cape Mount County Health Team to provide the Essential Package of Health Services (EPHS) in 24 health facilities and their catchment communities of Grand Cape Mount County. The project will build on the achievements in RBHS to continue the implementation of Integrated Management of Childhood Illness and expansion of maternal and newborn care, reproductive and adolescent health, HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, FP and prevention of gender based violence.
The project strategy includes intensive community participation and health education for behavior change led by Community Health Volunteers (gCHVs), Trained Traditional Midwives (TTMs), Household Health Promoters (HHPs), Community Health Development Committees (CHDC’s) and Community Health Committees (CHCs). The total number of beneficiaries is expected to exceed 127,000.
To read more about our successes in Liberia, please see Child Survival in Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia [PDF].
Medical Teams International is a registered non-governmental organization in Liberia with established by-laws. Medical Teams International-Liberia has a satellite office in Grand Cape Mount County and a country office in Monrovia. The programs and offices are led by Country Director Gayah Kezele. Our staff has a strong record of providing high quality and sustainable health services and health education. In addition, Medical Teams International-Liberia has established a good working relationship with the local community as well as district health offices, nongovernmental organizations, community health workers and other organizations. We partner with the following agencies in Liberia:
The Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL) is an ecumenical association developed by the Lutheran Church and established in 1975. CHAL operates today as a consortium of Christian health ministries that collaborate to provide health care services and to procure and distribute medial supplies. CHAL distributed Medical Teams International's container shipments of medicines and supplies to more than 20 hospitals and clinics in all 15 counties of Liberia. Currently, CHAL is helping implement the community outreach component of the Child Survival Project.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting rural clinics, community health services and strengthening the capacity of organizations that promote and deliver health care in order to rehabilitate health services in Liberia. USAID awards financial assistance to private voluntary organizations (PVOs) and their in-country partners through the Child Survival and Health Grants Program (CSHGP). This program aims to reduce infant, child, maternal and infectious disease-related morbidity and mortality rates.
MTI was awarded a sub-grant by JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) to assist in the Rebuilding Basic Health Services (RBHS) project in Liberia. RBHS was supported by USAID and implemented by JSI. JSI and its staff have worked to improve health services in more than 800 projects in 102 countries and are dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities throughout the world.
Serving in Mission (SIM) established Trinity Dental Clinic in 2007. With only three licensed dentists in Liberia, dental care is virtually nonexistent. This year, the SIM dental program will provide desperately needed dental services through its clinic and operate mobile-dental programs in rural areas of Liberia. Holistic treatment is emphasized, restoring spiritual as well as physical health by proclaiming the love and freedom that can be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Please donate or volunteer to help save lives in Liberia.