Although health services are being progressively restored in Liberia, important gaps persist, notably in under-funded areas such as specialised paediatric care and mental health.
We set up Bardnesville Junction Hospital, in the capital Monrovia. Our teaching hospital – validated by the Liberia Board of Nursery and Midwifery as a site for clinical skills training – provides specialised and emergency paediatric care, neonatology services, and management of complicated severe malnutrition.
We are also working with Montserrado county health authorities to provide free mental health and epilepsy treatment in Bensonville, Bromley, Clara Town and Pipeline.
Set up in September 2017, our community-based programme is helping build the skills of local clinical staff and community outreach workers, while helping patients, families and communities understand that mental health conditions and epilepsy can be effectively treated.
Saving children's lives in Liberia
Tanya Haj-Hassan is an MSF pediatrician from Philadelphia who worked at Bardnesville Junction Hospital in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, from April to October 2018.
We set up Bardnesville Junction Hospital in 2015 to provide urgently needed care for children during the Ebola epidemic, which claimed the lives of more than 200 Liberian medical workers and put a heavy strain on the country's medical system. The hospital now admits about 100 children a week for conditions including malaria, severe acute malnutrition, non-bloody diarrhea and respiratory tract infections.
Dr Haj-Hassan explains why child mortality remains so high and what the team at Bardnesville have done to help save more children's lives.
Our activities in 2020 in Liberia
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2020.
In 2020, we continued to provide specialist paediatric care in Bardnesville Junction hospital, which we opened in Monrovia during the Ebola epidemic in 2015. When COVID-19 led to travel restrictions in March, we were forced to suspend paediatric surgery because of the difficulty in sending surgical staff to the hospital. We reinforced our infection prevention and control measures and maintained our emergency and inpatient services for children, treating many with malaria and malnutrition.
In recent years, Bardnesville Junction hospital has served as a paediatric training site for Liberian medical workers. From January to March, we trained nurses, medical doctors and a nurse anaesthetist, before suspending medical internships because of COVID-19 risks.
In April, we distributed soap to 78,000 households in Monrovia and carried out a hygiene awareness campaign to help prevent COVID-19. We provided technical support in infection prevention and control at the city’s military hospital, where COVID-19 patients were treated by the Ministry of Health.
Mental health and epilepsy
Around 13 per cent of Liberians experience mental health disorders, and past studies have shown a high prevalence of epilepsy.* Yet these conditions often remain untreated, exacerbating social stigma. Working with five health facilities in Montserrado county, our teams supported mental health and epilepsy care through diagnosis, treatment and referrals. We supplied the essential mental health and epilepsy medications in these facilities, as they are generally unavailable in Liberia.
COVID-19 risks led us to suspend face-to-face consultations with our mental health and epilepsy patients for around four months. Instead, we conducted patient consultations by phone and organised monthly outdoor appointments for their medication refills. We resumed face-to-face consultations from July onwards, helping stabilise patients whom we could not reach by phone.
*Liberia Mental Health Policy and Strategic Plan for 2016-2021