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Former President Bill Clinton with International Medical Corps CEO, Nancy Aossey, and PATH CEO, Christopher Elias, at the 2008 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. PATH and International Medical Corps are partnering up to bring new health technologies to Liberia for their 2008 Commitment.

Mortality & Nutrition in Lofa County
Perspective on the welfare, status, and needs of the population living in Lofa County, Liberia.

Snapshot*

Population – 3.5 million
Internally displaced persons – 13,000
Refugees – 12,600 (Cote d’Ivoire)
Life expectancy – 41 years old
Median age – 18 years old
Infant mortality rate – 144 deaths for every 1,000 live births
Fertility rate – 5.9 children per woman
HIV/AIDS rate – 6 percent
Infectious disease risk – Very high
Literacy rate – 58 percent

Life in Liberia

Since emerging from two decades of civil war, Liberia is in the process of rebuilding its shattered infrastructure. The 2005 elections ushered in H.E. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to the Presidency of Liberia, making her Africa’s first elected woman head of state. As President, Johnson-Sirleaf has led the government in a post-war recovery effort that includes social service and economic reform. It is estimated that 80 percent of Liberia’s three million citizens live below the poverty line. Refugees who have returned to Liberia have found it difficult to earn their livelihoods in their home country, as 85 percent of the population is unemployed. Infant mortality is also staggeringly high with nearly 15 percent of all live births resulting in death. Life expectancy in the country is just 41 years old.

Helping Communities Help Themselves

Bringing Relief
In this post-war recovery period, International Medical Corps' primary objective in Liberia is to strengthen the county health systems by working alongside community, county, national, and international partners to provide:
• Primary health care
• Secondary health care
• Maternal and child care
• Expanded immunization
• Health and hygiene promotion
• Malaria prevention
• Nutritional screening and therapeutic and supplemental feeding
• Sexual and gender-based violence support, education, and prevention
• HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention

Health activities in certain facilities are complemented with an agricultural livelihoods program that helps farmers grow their own food for consumption and resale. In a time of rising food costs, this program works to empower Liberian farmers by making them less vulnerable to global food price fluctuations and more financially independent. In addition, a portion of sales from crops are re-invested in nearby health facilities with the aim of making these facilities self-sustaining and no longer dependent on external support.   One of International Medical Corps’ key partners in promoting food security is Child First Meds (www.childfirstmeds.com), a foundation founded by Richard J. Watson and his wife, the late Lucress Watson, to promote children’s health around the world.  In Liberia, Child First Meds donates seeds, as well as medicines, to improve the health and well-being of communities in which International Medical Corps works.

International Medical Corps currently supports health facilities in three counties that have large populations of displaced persons: in Lofa county alone 60 percent of the population is made up of returned refugees. International Medical Corps recently reached an agreement with the governments of Liberia and Switzerland to support secondary health care provision at the newly rehabilitated Tellewoyan Memorial Hospital in Voinjama in Lofa County. The hospital will offer not only primary care, but also secondary services, including: surgery, gynecology and obstetrics, pediatrics, and general medicine. As a trusted humanitarian partner in Liberia and one of the first NGOs to deliver health services to Lofa County, International Medical Corps was selected to provide all secondary medical services. In a show of support, President Sirleaf attended the hospital’s opening ceremony.

Enabling Self-Reliance

To make its efforts sustainable, International Medical Corps’ programs train Liberians to fill the following roles in their communities:
• Community health workers – Educate peers in basic health, such as preventable diseases, including HIV/AIDS
• Traditional birth attendants – Help ensure clean, safe deliveries for Liberian mothers and their babies
• Health care workers - Provide primary health care through International Medical Corps-supported health posts, mobile clinics, and health centers, as well as nutritional support in supplemental and therapeutic feeding centers
• County Health Teams - Manage health systems at county levels

As part of its education initiatives, International Medical Corps also works to create Village Health Committees, which are formal groups who work together to promote good health within their communities. International Medical Corps trains the committee participants in a variety of areas critical to good health, including: the dangers of drug use, hygiene promotion, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, agriculture techniques, and even pest control. The curriculum also covers business topics, such as general management and marketing, so that communities are better able to grow, harvest, and sell rice and other agricultural products for income.

You Can Help Build Change That Lasts

It is still critical to help Liberia in its post-war recovery period. While the Liberian government is rebuilding its infrastructure, the large number of refugees returning to Liberia is likely to strain the country’s limited resources. Please join International Medical Corps in supporting Liberians during this critical time. Together, we can continue to make health care more accessible, create jobs through training and education, and improve the overall quality of life for the people of Liberia. Help Liberia and other International Medical Corps programs worldwide.

*Statistics from U.S. Government

 

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