Via MSF UK, an alarming report: Liberia: MSF's new Ebola centres already overwhelmed. Excerpt:
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is rapidly scaling up its operations in Liberia as the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to be chaotic and entirely inadequate.
In its first week, MSF’s newest Ebola management centre – also known as ELWA3 – in the capital Monrovia, is already at capacity with 120 patients, and a further expansion is underway.
Meanwhile, in the north of the country, patients continue to flow into the newly rehabilitated Ebola management centre in Foya.
Serious lack of international leadership and coordination
“It is simply unacceptable that, five months after the declaration of this Ebola outbreak, serious discussions are only starting now about international leadership and coordination ,” says Brice de le Vingne, MSF Director of Operations.
“Self-protection is occupying the entire focus of states that have the expertise and resources to make a dramatic difference in the affected countries. They can do more, so why don’t they?”
The outbreak is spreading rapidly in Monrovia, overwhelming the few medical facilities accepting Ebola patients. Due to air travel restrictions, we are having to transport supplies to our Foya project in Liberia overland and on water from Guinea.
Emergency within the emergency
Much of the city’s medical system has shut down over fears of the virus among staff members and patients, leaving many people with no healthcare at all, generating an emergency within the emergency.
“In the aftermath of an earthquake it would be unthinkable that there are so few places where women can safely deliver their babies, or where people can be treated for life-threatening conditions,” says Lindis Hurum, MSF emergency coordinator in Monrovia.
“This is not only an Ebola outbreak – it is a humanitarian emergency, and it needs a full-scale humanitarian response.”
The number of people seeking care at the newly constructed 120-bed centre in Monrovia, which opened on 17th August, is growing faster than the team can handle, both in terms of the number of beds and the capacity of the staff.
Patients are coming from nearly every district of the city. The staff are struggling to screen new arrivals, care for admitted patients, safely remove dead bodies and transport them to the crematorium.
“The numbers of patients we are seeing is unlike anything we’ve seen in previous outbreaks,” says Hurum. “Our guidelines were written for an Ebola centre with 20 beds, and now we are expanding beyond 120 beds.
“The situation means we have to constantly adapt and we are recruiting and training health and hygiene staff day and night. The priorities now are maintaining a safe facility, separating suspected, probable and confirmed cases, and providing compassionate care.”
Like other Ebola centres, ELWA3 serves an important role in slowing the outbreak by isolating Ebola patients and preventing further infections.
However, the unprecedented influx of patients is forcing MSF to reduce the level of care. It is not currently possible, for example, to administer intravenous treatments.
MSF is preparing for further construction and to erect three larger tents with space for 40 beds each.