Today I am writing from Monrovia, Liberia. Yup, Monrovia… the center of the Ebola crisis in Liberia. I know, I know… be careful and wash my hands. Don’t worry, my new perfume is chlorine.
I’m here with MSF’s Paris Operational Center and our mission is focused on mass distribution of malaria treatment to the families in the Monrovia area (50,000 families give or take). The goal is that of public health, if we treat people for malaria (which is endemic here) we will keep malaria patients out of the Ebola Management Centers (EMCs).
You see, the first symptoms of malaria can be similar to those of Ebola… fever, malaise, nausea, headache… and, since the health system has collapsed, patients will go to the EMC. The problem is that this may cause a malaria patient to be exposed to Ebola unnecessarily. Unfortunately, due to the Ebola crisis, it is not safe for us to test all patients for malaria so we are taking a public health approach… people are likely have or to get malaria and the treatment will help both groups.
This project is just getting started. Obviously we have the approval from the MSF Paris office to start the project and have also aligned with the Minister of Health on the work that we plan to do. We continue to work out all of the details, but the Head of Mission, Medical Coordinator, and Project Coordinator have it all under control. There are two other Operational Centers of MSF here, Brussels and Geneva. Both groups are running Ebola Management Centers in the country… I suspect you have heard about the work they are doing if you have watched the news lately.
For me this assignment is different for numerous reasons. I have not been responsible to set up a new medical store or the stock management computer program. Additionally, I personally have never worked in an Ebola setting so my first stop before coming to Liberia was training at the MSF Brussels training center. MSF Brussels has been working in Ebola settings for 20 years and are the experts to whom we turn for Ebola training and expertise. No doubt all of this will be a great learning experience.