So go rea this report on the sisterblog of the National Catholic Reporter, about how the church there is coping with the problem.
As fear and confusion gripped the country over how to deal with the killer virus, Liberia’s already shaky health system collapsed. In small local clinics, sometimes entire staffs of eight or 10 people were killed within days. The Catholic church’s biggest hospital in the capital of Monrovia, which employs over 185 staff, was forced to close after nine of their top doctors and administrators died of the virus.
According to World Health Organization statistics from Oct. 3, there have been 7,492 Ebola cases and 3,439 deaths in the current outbreaks. Liberia has been the hardest hit, accounting for 3,834 cases of Ebola and 2,069 deaths.
“The crisis now is health services have come to a standstill,” said Brilliant. Compounding the problem, in August, borders closed and cargo planes refused to land, meaning that things like personal protective equipment (PPEs), the spacesuit-like outfits that protect health workers from the virus, could not arrive. Some organizations pulled their international staff out of the country, but other experts and doctors who wanted to come to Liberia to assist found land borders closed and airports not functioning.
“This past month it’s been a disaster, and the government knows this,” said Brilliant. “Having said that, it’s understandable, because coming out war, the health system was not strong, there was no supply chain management. It was a disaster waiting to happen and it’s happened. The health system is shaken, not dead, but shaken.”
(Liberia’s civil war, when Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia overran the country, lasted from the late 1980s to 2003, when Taylor fled the country for Nigeria. Approximately 250,000 people were killed during the fighting, and the country’s infrastructure was decimated.)
As the country struggled through the early days of the virus in August and September, the Catholic church kicked their network into high gear. The church has 18 clinics and hospitals in the diocese of Monrovia. Even in the worst days of the outbreak, they kept 15 open. Across Liberia, there are approximately 600 hospitals and clinics; 300 are privately run and faith-based, Brilliant said.