While the number of Ebola-infected patients in Liberia has steadily declined, MSF is assisting the local health system to safely restore medical services.
On March 20, a new case of Ebola was confirmed in Monrovia, Liberia, at the Ebola transit unit Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) opened at Redemption Hospital in December 2014. The patient, who died few days later, was Liberia’s first case of Ebola in more than two weeks.
“Our first objective is to identify those who are infected with Ebola as soon as possible,” explains Dr Hanna Majanen, MSF medical team leader in Monrovia. “Although the majority of patients referred to us don’t have Ebola, they still must be tested prior to receiving any assistance. The medical staff is understandably afraid, with 372 healthcare workers having contracted the virus since the outbreak started and 179 who then passed away.”
Rapid tests for Ebola are not yet available, and waiting for results from the lab means losing precious time. “We have seen people dying simply because they could not get timely medical care,” says Philippe Le Vaillant, MSF Head of Mission in Liberia. “They were usually suffering from illnesses like severe malaria or typhoid. Pregnant women facing obstetrical complications also have suffered the same fate.”