Doctors in Liberia working in extreme conditions

Originally published
Kaufbeuren/Monrovia, 07.10.2003: humedica doctors have been operating in Monrovia since the end of August. At the moment, the second team with Dr. Daniel Drexler (Landshut) and Bernd Gisch (paramedic, Ampfing) is in the Liberian capital helping a local partner organisation to re-open a clinic and provide medical treatment for the refugee camps.
In Liberia poverty and misery are everywhere. Help is urgently needed. In the coming weeks, refugees will continue to pour into the capital. The rainy season, with its extreme climatic conditions, plus the lack of food make life very difficult for the teams. Everybody living in the city is affected by the polluted water supply and the lack of water.

humedica is mainly concerned with rebuilding the AICA clinic in the Logan Town area. The building was damaged in the last few months of the war and is now being repaired. The electricity supply has already been repaired. The next task is to put on a new roof. Most of the patients are children under 5 suffering from fever, respiratory infections, diarrhoea, parasites or malnutrition. 50 - 80 patients are treated every day. The clinic doesn't have its own doctor, only nurses and doctor's assistants. At the moment, the staff and also guards are being paid solely by humedica. Each patient pays a small amount for the treatment. Our staff also carry out tests to check up on sugar levels, urine and pregnancies. Medicine, antibiotics, anti-malaria drugs and painkillers are most urgently needed. The local members of staff have no trouble treating less serious cases. They find it difficult, however, to treat patients who are seriously ill. It is thus imperative that the German team members teach local staff to treat patients themselves.

humedica has rented an office and flat for the medical team in a safe part of town. On the opposite side of the street is a school which now houses some 800 refugees. These people also receive basic medical treatment. Altogether, the team has visited three refugee camps with 20,000 people living in terrible conditions. New refugee camps are currently being built on the outskirts of Monrovia, little thatched bamboo huts measuring some two by three metres.

The new government under newly elected President Bryan took up office on 14th October. The UN began its mission on 1st October with 3,500 soldiers. On 2nd October there was still fighting between rebels and government troops near Logan Town where the AICA clinic is situated. Some people were killed and some seriously wounded. Following this, more check-points were set up in the streets so that the AICA clinic couldn't be reached at all for several days. According to the latest reports there is still heavy fighting between rebel and government troops in the interior. Many rebels and also government soldiers are still children. The loss of their parents through murder or just starvation drives them into the arms of the mercenaries.