Left, middle: PCI and its partners are shipping critically needed supplies from the U.S. to Liberia. Right: PCI staff in Monrovia receive a donation of medical supplies.
An Email from PCI’s Country Director in Liberia
Jolene Mullins, PCI’s Country Director in Liberia, was recently featured in a U-T San Diego article, highlighting her and PCI’s commitment to fighting the Ebola outbreak.
The Ebola nightmare continues to grow here in West Africa, and as I tell friends and family who call and email to check in, yes, it really is frightening and devastating. And even though I know that we all work to the point of exhaustion every day, I am both amazed and energized by the courage of our staff in the fight against this epidemic, and I know, ultimately, that we are making a difference.
Experts across the board agree that community education is the key to fighting this epidemic, and that is what PCI does best. We are fighting the myths and rumors that are popping up on a minute-by-minute basis, and getting the right information and the right supplies and equipment to those who need it most.
Through our existing community-based Mothers’ Groups, disaster risk management committees, community health volunteers, clinics, and farmers’ groups, we are raising awareness, correcting misconceptions and ensuring people are as safe as possible. We are also distributing critically needed emergency supplies purchased locally, as well as shipping a donation of additional hard-to-get supplies from the U.S. to Liberia. These supplies will help control the spread of the disease that is impacting the most heavily populated areas of the country.
PCI is reaching over 45,000 highly at-risk people in Liberia with essential awareness and education on Ebola. We are currently providing logistical support to the Ministry of Health (MOHSW) as the central Ministry sends technical teams throughout the country to provide health worker and community training.
Larger cities that border Guinea and Sierra Leone are seriously affected, and sadly, many health workers from the larger referral hospitals have abandoned their posts out of fear because they do not have the supplies they need to protect themselves. That means there are no lab technicians in place to test suspected cases, which makes our work to get protective gear, goggles, masks, and other supplies to these areas so critical.
The overwhelmed health system has also affected pregnant women seeking antenatal care and safe delivery services. Women who have traveled long distances to have their babies have been left to deliver alone in the empty hallways of local clinics and hospitals. Patients have been turned away from emergency rooms and clinics because staff is either unavailable or too frightened to care for them. We have assisted women in labor on the streets of Monrovia unable to access care, sometimes successfully but too many times, not.
Members of our Health and Nutrition Team have just left Monrovia where they have received additional Ebola training and educational materials for distribution in our communities. And we are creating Ebola Awareness Teams that will work with the District Health Offices and community leaders to provide training and materials to our community volunteers.
Thankfully none of our PCI staff and their families are infected, and they are taking a cue from our own prevention playbook and keeping safe with hand sanitizer, hand-washing buckets, and chlorine bleach.
Again, the key to fighting this epidemic is mobilizing communities. That’s what we’re doing. We are currently determining the needs within our communities for hand washing buckets and bleach, and we are working to get those supplies out as quickly as possible.
Liberians have survived many tragedies in recent history—from years of civil war, to food insecurity, and now Ebola. They are resilient and dedicated to overcoming the challenge. And I am so proud to be on the ground fighting with such an extraordinary group of people to save lives.
PCI Liberia Country Director