In March 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Liberia. One Medical facility that was at the frontline of the fight is the SOS Children’s Villages Medical Centre. It has been eight years since the EVD outbreak and SOS Children’s Villages supported Medical Centre in Liberia remains the hub of quality healthcare.
SOS Children’s Villages sustained the facility amidst the two major health pandemics in the country (Ebola and COVID-19). The Medical Centre collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other partners has improved healthcare delivery. The facility currently supports MOH immunization campaign and other initiatives to ensure the well-being of children, young people, women and the general public.
Staff at the Medical Centre are resilient, dedicated, and courageous – treating over 60 patients a day.
Among the patients is Albertha Swen**, a mother of two, smiles as she and her six-month-old son, Abel* receives medical care at the SOS Medical Centre. “For the past two days, my son had poor appetite and fever, so I had to bring him for a check-up,” says Albertha and she added “the committed nurses and the improved facility helped save my child.”
Malaria, Respiratory tract infections (RTIs), and diarrhea disease are the most common childhood illness treated at the SOS Medical Centre. Malaria is the leading cause of death for children under five in Liberia – with a prevalence of up to sixty percent (CDC Global Report, 2022).
More than 1,250 children are treated for malaria at the Medical Centre each year. On an average, it cost thirty-eight United States Dollars to fully treat a child with malaria. The economic crisis in Liberia has led to rise in the price of goods and services including cost of health care services, thereby contributing to the vulnerability of more than two million children.
Through the support of SOS Children’s Villages, Abel and many other children have access to quality healthcare. The Medical Centre is implementing a malaria control program. In 2021, the Medical Centre helped distribute insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs), enhance knowledge about malaria disease and control, relaunched community-based malaria control and prevention interventions to reduce malaria prevalence and mortality in children under five.
Even though significant progress has been made at the Medical Centre since 2019, the Medical Centre has one ambulance to respond to emergency cases from over 160 communities in Monrovia and its environs. Responding speedily to the emergency health cases of many patients has become increasingly challenging with just one ambulance.
The Medical Centre strives to improve service delivery daily, launching its digital hospital management software in, moving it from a paper-based health care service provider. The integration of hospital management software enhances the management of patient records and maintains confidentiality. The Medical Centre also implements a community-based health outreach programme that reaches over 2,000 children and youth on a monthly basis.
Meanwhile, due to the delicate task of healthcare workers, psychosocial support and training in child protection are provided periodically. “Making healthcare accessible to all is an ethical obligation. No one is safe unless everyone is safe,” says Doctor James Lewis, Medical Director, SOS Children’s Villages Medical Centre in Liberia.
As part of efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal three – ensuring good health and well-being, SOS Children’s Villages is promoting Universal health coverage – supporting children access to health services without financial hardship, from prevention to treatment and awareness.
Written by Joseph Joboe, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia, Communication & Brand Coordinator
*Name has been changed to protect identity