News / Africa

Surgeons Volunteer to Improve Liberian Health Care

Project Hope surgical team at Liberia's Phebe Hospital in Bong County February 2012
Project Hope surgical team at Liberia's Phebe Hospital in Bong County February 2012
Joe DeCapua

Although fighting ended in Liberia in 2003, the country remains on a long road to recovery from civil war. Poverty, a lack of development and little health care are among the challenges facing the government. But a group of volunteer surgeons has visited this week Liberia to provide services rarely seen in that country.

The team of surgeons from Project Hope spent several days at Phebe Hospital in Bong County. That’s north of the capital Monrovia.

No surprises

Dr. Jonathan Laryea, who led the medical team, says they were not surprised by what they found.

“We had done some background checks on what was going on in Liberia. And so, we kind of had a pretty decent idea of what to expect. And then secondly, an advance team came in. two of us came in earlier, to make kind of an assessment before the rest of the team came in,” he said.

Liberia’s civil war took a heavy toll on civilians, infrastructure and social services, including health care.

“They have very few medical personnel in this country. I think the long period of civil war just decimated the country. Most of the doctors that were already here left. And then for that prolonged period of time of the war they were not training new doctors and any new medical personnel. And so that has really made it a very difficult situation for them in terms of health care,” he said.

He estimates there are fewer than 10 surgeons in a country of 4 million people. The statistics are similar for other medical specialties, as well.

In the OR

Laryea and the Project Hope team performed many surgeries at Phebe Hospital, but he says he just can’t remember how many. He gives a few examples.

“Removing large goiters, some of which were pretty complicated. We did a bunch of hernias. We operated on a trauma patient and a Crohn’s disease patient. And then we did a complex uteral reimplantation surgery on somebody who had had a fistula as a result of childbirth,” he said.

Obstetric fistula is a tear or hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum that results from prolonged or difficult labor. Left uncorrected, the woman is unable to control her urine or bowel content. She is often shunned by her family because of the constant odor.

Following the surgeries, the doctors also instructed Liberian medical students. It’s part of the effort to help rebuild health infrastructure. It’s estimated the country has only one hospital bed for every 1,000 people in the country.

Project Hope, which is based in the U.S. state of Virginia, has been providing humanitarian assistance since 1958. It has programs in more than 35 countries.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid