Liberia: “There is Hope”

The following entry was written by Charles Redding, CEO & President of MedShare. It is his third update on his travels in Liberia.

I am sure by now you understand that the need in Liberia is great and it will take a lot of help and support to improve the current healthcare situation. Today I bring you good news: there is hope.

liberia_update3_5Today we met with Dr. Francis N. Kateh, Deputy Minister for Health Services/Chief Medical Officer. He had just returned from a five-hour journey working in the field, but graciously met with us and presented the nine strategic pillars that had been developed to strengthen the healthcare system in Liberia. Obviously, the need for medical supplies, equipment and essential medicines were all integral parts of this plan. He was thrilled that MedShare and MAP were well aligned with the established health priorities for the country. He informed us that the most pressing needs he had, beyond supplies and medicines, were biomedical equipment repairs and training. Eben’s (our Director of Biomedical Training & Support) face flashed before my eyes. I shared with him our intent to commission a biomed training and repair mission trip to Liberia. We would recruit other engineers from hospitals and corporations to travel with Eben to the region to train and repair equipment. The Chief Medical Officer asked, “Can they be here tomorrow?” Steve Sterling, CEO & President of MAP, offered to send medical professionals to help train doctors and treat patients, along with using Telemedicine as a teaching aid. Dr. Kateh could not believe his ears. He was excited about the prospects of what we will be able to do by working together. Steve also announced that MAP would provide a program resource to the MOH office for four out of five days to help implement strategies and achieve the goals communicated to us. Together we can make a difference!

liberia_update3_6MedShare has a longstanding relationship with MAP International and I was delighted to be able to tour their offices and meet their dedicated staff. We started the meeting with a prayer for us and for all those who continue to need our help. What a dedicated group! I am truly honored to partner with such a passionate organization that has made a significant impact in Liberia. They continue to work to address a number of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) with a focus on Leprosy and Buruli Ulcers. Their direct relationship with the MOH office will be instrumental in our ability to align and support the health priorities of the country. My time here with Steve has strengthened my resolve to help the people of Liberia and leverage our strategic partnership to the fullest extent.

Now I introduce you to Dr. Martha Zarway and the Kingdom Care Medical Center. What a powerhouse leader and impactful medical center. We traveled what seemed like 2 miles down a winding dirt road in liberia_update3_7Monrovia before we came across this small and unassuming building. We had no idea what awaited us inside. Dr. Martha Zarway has established one of the finest and cleanest medical facilities in all of Liberia. The facility included 23 beds, lab facilities, a pharmacy, surgical/operating room, a kitchen, and storage. She promptly shared with us the impressive statistics for the hospital and the great work they are doing, via their Mobile Clinic Program, to reach some of the most marginalized citizens in remote regions of Liberia. She informed us that they charge each patient in these remote regions only 25 cents for treatment, but they do not turn anyone away who cannot pay. So moved by her presentation and the impact of her work, we decided to give a donation to cover the cost for a number of patients who could not afford to pay the 25 cents. Dr. Zarway shared a list of medicines with Steve and gave me a list of supplies and equipment the hospital needs. Don’t worry Dr. Zarway, help is on the way!

It is because of dedicated and caring individuals within the Liberian healthcare system –like Dr. Kateh and Dr. Zarway– that I believe there is hope for Liberia. I would also add Dr. Logan to this list. His passionate plea earlier this week compelled us to visit a former leprosy colony to meet with this ostracized community. Although our trip is fast approaching the end, I am encouraged by the prospects of partnerships and promise. This nation has been dealt one bad hand after another, but please do not feel sorry for Liberians, they do not feel sorry for themselves. It is this attitude that will allow them to overcome this latest set-back, and improve access to quality healthcare for all.

-Charles Redding