Ebola is real. This is the tag line that is being repeated across Liberia. As of August 24th, Liberia has over 1,000 cases of Ebola with active transmission of the virus in almost all of its 15 counties. The caseload in Liberia outweighs those in both Guinea and Sierra Leone, making it the country where the outbreak is the worst.
We left Liberia on Wednesday, July 23rd for our first furlough back in the states. Two weeks later we received confirmation that 2 people in River Cess County had contracted and died from the virus. Out of fear of Ebola in River Cess, the county hospital shut its doors. In response, all those who were sick in Cestos City (the capital of River Cess) crossed the Cestos River to reach the Po River Clinic, not only putting the clinic and clinic staff at risk, but also everyone who lives in the 7-mile stretch between the Cestos River and the Pillar of Fire Mission. In order to stop the potential spread of Ebola into the Jarnee District, we have had to temporarily close the clinic.
Over the past few weeks we have been in communication with UNICEF, the CDC, and the Liberian Ministry of Health (MOH). Their advice has been for us to keep the clinic closed until they could reach our clinic with the proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and training. We have received confirmation this week that a team from the MOH will be reaching River Cess to start training ALL the healthcare workers in the county, including our clinic. In the meantime our staff has been working with the Liberian Red Cross to provide Ebola awareness and prevention education throughout the community. We are so proud that they have joined in this effort.
In reality, no one was prepared for this Ebola outbreak and what it would become. Hospitals and clinics across the country have had to close and re-group in order to try and get a handle on the spread of this disease. We hope to be able to safely re-open the clinic sometime in the next few weeks.
The CDC has said it could take at least 6 months to get this outbreak under control. Liberia is living under a State of Emergency. Communities are being quarantined. Roads are blocked. Food prices are rising. Our managing Physician’s Assistant told us the conditions in Liberia are worse than they were during the 14-year civil war.
We will be returning to Liberia on November 1st. Please pray for wisdom and discernment over the next few months, and continue to pray for the clinic, our staff, and all our friends back in Liberia.
Thank you again for all of your support of the Po River Medical Clinic.
Steve and Jen