For my country, Liberia, last month was turbulent but hopeful. While July marked the re-emergence of Ebola in Liberia, it also showed greater knowledge about Ebola prevention nationwide. The outbreak revealed the depth of the health system’s weaknesses and galvanized new priorities for our nation: strengthening the health workforce and building better systems for disease reporting, epidemic response, and infection prevention, in addition to ongoing basic health care.
For the past seven months, JSI’s staff of trainers have worked closely with the Ministry of Health and county health teams across Liberia to promote behavior change in health facilities. This means taking time to train and mentor health workers in infection prevention and control protocols — a tremendous commitment with a large potential payoff: confident health workers nationwide. At the same time, JSI logistitians have ensured that clinics in all 15 of Liberia’s counties have the essential infection prevention supplies that they need — no matter how difficult it is to reach the clinic. As a result, health clinics are able to continue providing routine services like immunizations and care for new mothers and infants.
Through our work, we’ve seen that a health clinic with staff who understand the importance of cleanliness can offer better services to communities; communities that trust the care they receive lead healthier lives; and health workers who are confident are dedicated to and effective in their work.
What happens next for Liberia will depend on our ability to overcome the Ebola epidemic, as well as prevent other infections. Success cannot come from just clearly identifying our system’s weaknesses, but by how effectively we remedy them for the long term by utilizing our strengths.
One of JSI’s greatest strengths is its people — from those who work in our headquarters to those in the field. As we continue to leverage this resource in Liberia, we look forward to a brighter future for all Liberians.