14 years of civil war in Liberia nearly destroyed its entire health system. Many doctors and nurses fled the country at the time, leaving 30 physicians to serve a population of 3 million, according to the World Health Organization. Now, eight years later, the population outside of the capital Monrovia still has little or no access to basic health services. In response to these challenges, the UN Mission in Liberia is offering free medical services to the poor and disadvantaged communities.
Jocelyne Sambira reports.
Hundreds of patients are waiting outside a medical outreach clinic in Bensonville, Liberia for a free check-up.
Bensonville, a poor community where basic health facilities are scarce, is one of the four areas where the UN is offering its medical services.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sajid Javed expects to treat at least 600 patients from the community:
"We decided that doing the entire period of our stay in Liberia; we will undertake 4 medical outreach cam
ps. This is the last one we are doing here right now. Before that we have already undertaken three outreaches in different cities and parts of Liberia."
In many of the rural communities in Liberia, there are no registered nurses, paramedics or doctors. These Pakistani medical doctors are filling that gap.
Grace Kpaan, a local official in Montserrado County, welcomes the initiative:
"This is awesome; the fact here is that many communities in Montserrado County where we don't have this kind of basic medical service. As you can see most of the people live in these communities, because of the lack of clinics or hospitals, when they are sick they just really stay home and treat themselves or use some traditional means. Some may have the means of getting to the clinic, sometime when you get to the clinic they recommend drugs you do not have the opportunity to buy. But this is absolutely free."
Most of the prevailing conditions seen in children and adults include skin and infectious diseases, respiratory tract infections, malaria, and diarrhoea and dysentery.
These conditions suggest that there is a lack of proper hygiene and sanitary conditions.
Dr. Rehan Masroor is a Senior Medical Officer:
"Most of the people here are coming with complaints of fever, some are coming with abdominal pain, loose motions, some are here with skin infections. We have got very, very good antibiotics available with us, top of the line antibiotics, top of the line anti-malaria drugs, and top of the line analgesics. For the children, especially we have purchased very good antibiotics, anti-malaria and antipyretic syrups."
UNMIL treats an average of about a thousand people during their weekly medical runs in local communities.
But even more important are their efforts to re-build Liberia's health care and medical institutions.
Meanwhile, young mothers like Miatta Kiada are just grateful for these "clinics on wheels".
"Really, I really feel good about the people, because of the help that they giving us in this country."
Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.