Rebuilding Liberia After EbolaOn January 14, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Liberia Ebola-free. As a result, the region of West Africa was officially free of the virus. Ebola was widespread throughout West Africa and cases occurred in the U.S. The country of Liberia was hit particularly hard by the virus between 2014 and 2016, with over 10,000 cases and a 45 percent fatality rate. Furthermore, since the outbreak, there have been many consequences. What has been done to address those consequences and rebuild Liberia after Ebola?

Both during, and after, the Ebola crisis, Liberian doctors worked with organizations like the WHO on the front lines to combat Ebola. In order to build-up medical infrastructure in Liberia, communities have engaged with nonprofit organizations. From the beginning of the crisis, Doctors Without Borders has been working with the government of Liberia and it continues to do so.

Ebola Treatment Units have been created to act as the first point of contact for people who are believed to have Ebola. The staff is trained and ready to respond to patients who show Ebola symptoms. Vaccines have also been distributed to centers across the country and they have been reported to be effective. People working in clinics have learned how to identify the disease and how to handle it.

The government of Liberia, with the support of the World Bank and United Nations, has created a plan for reconstructing the healthcare system, known as “Building a Resilient Health System.” Specifically, it plans to build new infrastructure and medical centers, which allows medical staff to care for various medical problems, not just outbreaks of the virus.

Psychiatrists and clinics are helping survivors and family members cope after the tragedy. The nonprofit More Than Me has worked to help reintegrate survivors back into the community as well.

It important to note that the chance of another outbreak is both likely and deadly in a developing country. This is due to a lack of understanding on how the virus is transmitted and how long it persists in one’s system. The Ebola virus still exists and could be transmitted by animals. This is why it is important for these organizations to continue outreach and awareness programs in Liberia, which teach Liberians about the disease.

While there is more to be done to rebuild healthcare systems in Liberia after Ebola, there is hope. According to an article by Al Jazeera, “Ebola has also united Liberians and brought greater trust into the health system, which is finally seen as the government priority.”

Liberia after Ebola is a changed Liberia. Families must deal with the social and economic fallout, while survivors and doctors must worry about when the virus may return. However, Liberians are better prepared to take on the virus in the future, thanks to the work of Liberian communities and medical organizations and nonprofits.

Emilia Beuger

Photo: Flickr