Liberia: Heroes & Villains - part 2

29 November 2017

Mark is a doctor from the UK, currently working at an MSF / Doctors Without Borders hospital in Liberia, a country where the health system is still recovering from the 2014 ebola outbreak. In his last post, Mark wrote about one of his heroes at the project. Today, he writes about one of the 'villains'...
 
Vampires and werewolves have been a part of folklore for centuries. It’s now widely acknowledged that the idea for these creatures originated from an equally terrifying real-life, everyday villain - rabies. 
 
This story begins with a three-year-old brought in by his father with convulsions. It quickly transpired that he was bitten on the face by a dog about a month ago. What is most striking about this young boy is his fear of water. When we bring him a cup of water to drink, he starts panicking, hyperventilating and a look of complete terror sweeps across his face.  As soon as the water is removed, he is immediately calm.

image shows a small boy on a hospital bed, with a healthcare worker wearing protective equipment
Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to attend the patient. Photo: Mark Lee / MSF.
 
Hydrophobia (fear of water) is typical of rabies – a virus found in many mammals, but most commonly passed onto humans via dog bite. 
 
Sadly, once the symptoms of rabies appear it is too late to do anything and the mortality is 100%. This boy died two days later. 
 
If the child had been taken to a health facility immediately after the dog bite, he could have received 
treatment that may have prevented the virus from taking hold. Unfortunately, knowledge about seeking treatment after dog bites is limited. Our community health educators and the Ministry of Health are doing a good job of rectifying this in the hope that these terrible cases become less frequent. 

 

Pitch Battle

Image shows the MSF team wearing white football kits with red stripes

MSF’s Bardnesville Junction Hospital Squad. Photo: Mark Lee / MSF.

As Richard explained in my last post, football is a very popular pastime in Liberia. So what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than watching two NGOs pitch their best talent against each other? This week was the turn of Partners In Health to challenge the might of MSF’s Bardnesville Junction Hospital Team.

Images shows a football match in progress. The pitch is sandy and the sun is shining.

The slightly dry pitch with natural obstacles such as a concrete well just outside the penalty box. Photo: Mark Lee / MSF

Partners in Health, with their ex-International striker who played for Malawi, put in a solid performance in the first half. However in the second half, MSF rallied around their captain, log team leader Alex, for whom this would be the last game before finishing his mission. Along with two goals of his own, the team gave Alex a parting gift for his return to France – a 7-2 victory.

 

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