Partners In Health came to Liberia to lend our expertise in an area we know well—fighting infectious diseases. When the Ebola outbreak was taking hold in West Africa in 2014, the Liberian government, aware of our background in infectious diseases, requested our assistance in the southeast region of the country.
In the years since, we have helped Liberians recover from this life-threatening disease by strengthening the country’s health infrastructure, tackling the systemic issues that contributed to the outbreak and its magnitude and laying the groundwork to make health care more dignified and accessible for those who need it the most.
We’ve come to see our work in Liberia as proof of a concept—that, in close partnership with the government, we can transform an area with the lowest number of health care providers in the country into a vibrant health system with top-notch care for all.
Patient acceptance of family planning increased by 175% at PIH-supported health facilities.
Rate of tuberculosis patients lost-to-follow-up decreased from 15% to 0% after PIH support began.
30% increase in mental health patients enrolled in care at PIH-supported facilities.
During the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015, we helped control the disease's spread through accompaniment, training, and expertise to support treatment centers.
We worked closely with the government to accompany patients at each step of their treatments, promising not to abandon them, and renewing their faith in a previously unreliable health care system.
We equipped local leaders with the resources to train their communities on how to avoid infection and contamination.
We also began working with colleagues in the Ministry of Health to battle the multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) epidemic in the capital of Monrovia, then extended that fight to the southeast region of the country. In 2017, we opened an MDR-TB ward in rural Maryland County at J.J. Dossen Hospital, equipped with 15 beds. We provide care to patients, food supplements, and transportation fees so that they can continue to make appointments until they reach a cure. We are pushing for integration of TB and HIV services.
When Ebola came under control in early 2015, we expanded our mission to strengthen and rebuild Liberia’s health systems, using our approach that had proved successful in countries like Haiti and Rwanda. Our approach was driven by the fact that we knew, deep down, Ebola did not kill all those who lost their lives during the outbreak – the weakness of the system did.
These efforts have included renovations and resourcing for hospitals and clinics across southeast Liberia, including J.J. Dossen Hospital, Pleebo Health Center, and various smaller clinics in the region.
Our work has connected these health centers with vital resources that directly impact patient care. J.J. Dossen has an X-ray machine for the first time in decades, an oxygen plant that supplies oxygen to health facilities and a microbiology lab that services the region, modern plumbing and electrical wiring, and an operating ward with advanced sterilization, where a skilled surgeon and gynecologist performs emergency cesarean sections that save mothers’ lives. Pleebo Health Center, which in 2014 saw two dozen patients daily, now sees hundreds. To meet increased demand, we have expanded its maternal ward and started the construction of an emergency room.
To support maternal and child health in Liberia, we have focused on integrated reproductive health care to ensure quality prenatal and postnatal care, identify danger signs in pregnancy, and ensure safe delivery. We also emphasize infection prevention among pregnant women and offer family planning. These efforts have helped reduce maternal and infant mortality in Liberia. Additionally, we’ve built a network of eight youth-friendly centers that provide sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents.
Our comprehensive mental health program has supported patients suffering from mental illness, including those experiencing homelessness--first by providing them with food, water, and hygiene products. This approach has helped build trust within the community; several patients have shown significant improvement due to a combination of medication and social support.
As we work to strengthen health systems, we recognize that technology is only part of the equation—professional development is just as crucial. We invest in the next generation of nurses in Liberia, with our experts teaching and mentoring students in the only public nursing program in the country at Tubman University. J.J. Dossen has also become a hub of training for intern and resident physicians across a variety of specialties, including family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and general surgery.