Thanks to Lucie Lecomte for sending the link to this report in The Telegraph: One patient in a 200-bed hospital: how Ebola has devastated Liberia's health system. Excerpt:
Three-year-old Matu Buema lies wheezing in her hospital bed, a tiny, listless bundle in her mother Fatu's arms. The normally bouncy toddler is suffering from a bout of malaria that could easily kill her - yet right now, she is far and away the luckiest of the patients to have sought help at Phebe Hospital in central Liberia.
Last month, five of the hospital's nurses and one doctor became infected while treating a patient carrying the Ebola virus, and in the ensuing panic, most of the rest of the staff fled en masse.
The hospital has been closed ever since, and for the 330,000 residents of Bong County, a swathe of dense rainforests scattered with remote villages, there are now no emergency hospital facilities at all, be it for Ebola or anything else.
Those who bring sick or dying loved ones to Phebe's gates are stopped by security guards, some of whom carry spiked clubs in case their message that the hospital cannot help does not go down well.
The only cases that get past the checkpoint are those where a child's life is in imminent danger, such as young Fatu, or mothers with complications during childbirth. Who gets in and who doesn’t is down to the discretion of the two doctors still working at the hospital, but even then there is a limit to their charity.
With most of the hospital technicians and specialists absent, many operations cannot be carried out all, and when The Telegraph visited Phebe last week, malaria-stricken Matu was the sole patient in a facility with 200 beds.
"At the moment we can look after only the most critical cases because of the lack of staff," said Kerson Saykor, the administrator of Phebe, standing next to a memorial picture of one of the dead nurses posted to a wall.
"We want the nurses to come back, but they are saying they want protective equipment in case any other patients come in with Ebola, and we do have enough of that to give them yet."
The problems at Phebe are repeated across Liberia, with scores of clinics and hospitals now shut because of the Ebola outbreak. Such has been the chaos that no hard figures on the numbers of closures are available, but with around 80 of the country's 6,000 health workers infected with the virus, including some senior physicians, the impact on the health service has been devastating.
The PPE shortage is indeed serious. In a recent update, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare listed key points in the logistics and supply chain. (Download the PDF and scroll down to the highlighted red column.) For example, as of August 6 there were zero face masks in inventory, and 71,060 needed per month. Pairs of rubber boots: 54. Needed monthly: 1,250.