Last remaining public hospital in Monrovia abandoned

"There is no public hospital any more that civilians can turn to," said Dr Civet, of MSF. "Many people are getting close to exhaustion and risk dying in the streets of Monrovia. And the risk of epidemics is very real. Cholera is endemic and peaks in the rainy season, which is now; overcrowding, lack of food, lack of clean water and a complete absence of sanitation will favour a fast spread of the disease.
Monrovia/Brussels - Yesterday, staff and patients in the last remaining public hospital in Monrovia saw themselves forced to leave the hospital. The 130-bed civilian Redemption Hospital, supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), found itself virtually on the frontline in the extremely violent war that rages in the city. Before all staff and patients fled, it was filled to capacity with a large number of war wounded. The head of mission for MSF in Liberia, Alain Kassa, tried to reach Redemption in the afternoon. He describes an increasingly desperate situation in the northern part of town. "There are dead bodies in the main street and you can smell death in many places." The MSF team found some patients who escaped in ambulances, others who were being carried by staff or relatives, in one case in a wheelbarrow. In the city, hundreds of thousands and possibly up to one million people are on the run. Many have been displaced for years and find themselves now literally driven to the edge, in the south of Monrovia on the coast. "People have come from camps where the last food distribution was months ago. They have again been fleeing for six days with nothing to eat. Here in the city, they won’t even find the bits and pieces of food that they can gather in the bush," adds Alain Kassa. Some are now fleeing out of the city again, in the direction of Kakata to the northeast. MSF supports, with other organisations, the displaced in the sports stadium and will start working on emergency water supply there today. In other parts of the city, most of the MSF clinics are still functioning under difficult conditions. In Mamba Point, in the south of the city, the MSF team will today set up an additional clinic for the displaced. But the clinics can only offer outpatient care. According to the medical coordinator of MSF in Monrovia, Dr Natalie Civet, the situation is likely to get even worse in the immediate future. "There is no public hospital any more that civilians can turn to," said Dr Civet. "Many people are getting close to exhaustion and risk dying in the streets of Monrovia. And the risk of epidemics is very real. Cholera is endemic and peaks in the rainy season, which is now; overcrowding, lack of food, lack of clean water and a complete absence of sanitation will favour a fast spread of the disease. Also, we have seen the first cases of measles in our clinic in Clara Town." Cholera and measles are among the leading causes of death in Africa.