5 September 2014

Liberia: U.S. Doctors Ready to Help Liberian Health Workers

Photo: Heartt Foundation
A young child at JFK Hospital

In the wake of the deadly Ebola virus which is ravaging member states of the Mano River Union (MRU) and now Nigeria, a group of concerned leading healthcare practitioners from the medical campus of the University of Massachusetts (UMass) in Worcester and the Boston's Children Hospital are collaborating with Liberian community organizations in Massachusetts to dispatch a huge consignment of needed protective gear to Liberia.

The MRU, a sub-regional economic grouping, comprises Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. As for Nigeria, its known contact with Ebola was due to treating an infected Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, who had traveled to that country for an ECOWAS--Economic Community of West African States--summit. So far, three deaths have been reported from Nigeria and all victims were health workers who apparently had direct contact with Mr. Sawyer.

During a mass meeting on August 10th with members of the Liberian community of Metro Boston at the 12th Baptist Church on 160 Warren Street in Roxbury, Dr. Patricia McQuilkin, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UMass-Worcester named surgical gloves, gowns and masks as some of the protective gear needed by healthcare workers in Liberia.

She disclosed that as a result of an existing partnership involving her medical school, Boston Children's Hospital, other medical institutions and the Health Education and Relief through Teaching (HEARTT), a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, they had in the past six years, made two shipments to the Health Ministry in Liberia, to help medical institutions in the country.

She said because they had already been involved in helping Liberian health workers and they already have storage facilities in place, so with the Ebola crisis, they decided to collaborate with Liberian organizations in Massachusetts in order to help their colleagues in Liberia, adding, "We have received 2,000 pounds of donation."

Dr. McQuilkin said while her partnership grouping is still soliciting protective materials, it is equally urging Liberians and friends of Liberia to make financial contributions that will help underwrite the cost of additional shipment, which will be made at the end of August.

Dr. McQuilkin, who is also a Visiting Professor of Pediatrics at the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine at the University of Liberia, lamented that many healthcare workers in Liberia are being exposed to the deadly virus, partly due to the lack of, or insufficiency of those essential protective materials. As a Visiting Professor, Dr. McQuilkin normally shuttles between Worcester and Monrovia at least twice a year, based on a partnership agreement between UMass-Worcester and the University of Liberia.

Speaking further, the leading pediatrician said the Liberian Government, through the Health Ministry, has also sent out SOS--save-our-souls--appeals for disposable aprons, body bags, goggles, rubber boots and sanitizer. Other items the Health Ministry in Monrovia is in dire need of as it fiercely combats Ebola include chlorine pellets, adhesive tapes, antibiotics, IV fluids and no-touch thermometers, Dr. McQuilkin emphasized.

"If you are affiliated with a hospital or health care organization, many of the companies that supply surgical gloves, gowns, masks, etc to your hospital may want to make a donation of supplies for Liberia", the American medic told members of the Liberian community.

She also urged Liberians to use the social media--Facebook, Twitter, etc--in creating public awareness among their brethren back home about the need to heed precautionary advisory from health workers.

Meanwhile, Dr. McQuilkin has identified three web addresses belonging to Medicine Sans Frontier and HEARTT for financial donation, with a caveat that reference be made to Save-Liberian-Healthcare Lives Workers Campaign. The web addresses are as follows: http://igg.ne/at/savinghealthcareworkerslives, www.doctorswithoutborders.org and http://hearttfoundation.org.


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