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Headline

Liberia

Support health systems during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Liberia health system is not fully functional and relies heavily on external support, including health worker incentives, health commodities and supplies, as well as technical resources. For instance 50% of the health facilities in urban areas have no water access at all.

 

A new threat to the health care system

 

In these conditions, the continuity of healthcare services is jeopardized by the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing the risks for health seeking populations (pregnant women, infants and children, chronically ill, etc.) and the lives of health workers. The current health system cannot support the pandemic without external support. Health facilities are ill-equipped and health workers lack basic personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other essential materials. Some outpatient departments had to close due to lack of protective equipment. Healthcare workers are affected, scared and unwilling to support their patients. This undermines the critical role of healthcare system to do timely diagnosis, detection, isolation and treatment of cases.

Montserrado county the most affected county in Liberia, home to a third of the country’s population, it’s the center of the pandemic. The risk of transmission remains very high largely due to the dense population and widespread movements within Montserrado. From the beginning of the outbreak, our team has been supporting the Montserrado County Health team in the fight against Covid-19, adapting our existing health projects by adopting health protocols, donating Personal Protective Equipment (PPES), capacity building and providing logistical supports. Then, with support from emergency fund from SIDA, we have been able to provide access to improved water supply in some densely populated communities and sanitation services in 15 health facilities.

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Libéria dépistage

© Action contre la Faim Libéria

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Libéria dépistage

© Action contre la Faim Libéria

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Empowering health workers to protect others

 

With support from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), we are now implementing a larger intervention, expanding our response coverage to Nimba, and Margibi counties in addition to Montserrado County, in 57 Health facilities and their catchment areas. This intervention aims to flatten the curve and provide more time for response and smoothen the impact for the most vulnerable and at-risk groups. The project aims to reduce COVID-19 incidence among health workers and in the general population, ensure the continuity of the health services, reduce fear and miss-information, increase handwashing practices, and ensure that the households at risk have a social safety net during quarantine and the wider epidemic period.

Action against Hunger is implementing this program both directly and through partnership with local partners. We work with four national organizations: on community engagement we work with CHI (Community Health Initiative) who is covering the Montserrado and Margibi counties, on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene  we work with Ground Water Exploration Incorporated (GWEI), on advocacy we work with SUNCSAL (Scaling up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance of Liberia) and on Mental Health Psychosocial Support we work with LAPS (Liberia Association of Psychosocial Services). These partners have local staff and volunteers that are experienced in their field of expertise and they provide added value for the emergency response.

With our assistance, the Counties Health teams have improved surveillance system to track and report on COVID-19 cases and the Ministry of Agriculture is being supported to monitor the food security in the three counties. Health facilities are being upgraded to ensure the standards for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in protecting the health staff and the patients, and the continuity of primary health care services. As part of the IPC activities, our team trains health workers and provide protective personal equipment (facial masks, gowns, gloves, protective eyeglasses, handwashing solutions), construct triage and isolation rooms, wells, handwashing stations and waste management facilities. 

We also ensure that population living in Montserrado, Margibi, Nimba has access to lifesaving information and the means to protect themselves from the virus, through communication campaigns, health promotion in communities and installation of hand stations in public spaces.

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