‘Living Proof that Change Is Possible’: Mercy Ships Medical Capacity Building in Liberia

To get to some of the most remote areas in Liberia, there’s only one way to travel: on the back of a motorcycle.

Thankfully, the Mercy Ships Biomedical Mentoring Team, led by longtime volunteer Emmanuel Essah, is up to the challenge!

They represent just one branch of the Mercy Ships Medical Capacity Building (MCB) team working to strengthen surgical systems in partnership with host nations across Africa. While there’s no ship currently docked in Monrovia, Mercy Ships’ longstanding commitment to the country remains strong.

Building Back from Tragedy

In Liberia, the wounds from a long civil war are still raw after 20 years. Not a single adult remains untouched by the tragedies that occurred. The country was still working to recover from that crisis when the next hit – the Ebola outbreak, which took the lives of about 4,800 Liberians from 2014 to 2016.

But the people and medical workers of Liberia are resilient, and together with a Mercy Ships team on the ground, they’re working to improve their healthcare systems from within.

While Emmanuel and the Biomedical Mentoring Team are riding out to the farthest reaches of the country, the Food for Life Team, led by Prudent Minvognon, is growing roots. They recently had a building renovated to host a 22-week agriculture and food processing training with 24 young Liberian entrepreneurs.

Mercy Ships surgeons, anesthesia providers, and nurses are also working alongside local healthcare professionals to support them in their daily work.

Local trainer and Anesthesia Provider Perry teaches his fellow Anesthesia nurses in SAFE Obstetric Anesthesia in Harper.

A New Era of SAFE Anesthesia

Just a few weeks ago a new team arrived, carrying loads of anesthesia training equipment in their luggage. Almost all the anesthesia providers in Liberia have already participated in an online training course in SAFE Obstetric Anesthesia, which was offered by Mercy Ships in partnership with the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists (WFSA). Now, local Liberian anesthesia providers have welcomed teams to the country to facilitate the next level of practical training.

These trainings would not have been possible without Alieu Perry, an anesthesia provider from Bomi County. He’s the secretary of the Liberian Association of Nurse Anesthetists, and he reached out to every single anesthesia provider in the country, encouraging them to do the online training. He then worked with their medical directors to secure their release from work for the skills training day. During the training, he helped support the facilitators. Soon he became a trainer himself, and joined the team when they traveled to the southeast to teach the nurse anesthetists serving there.

“For myself he is living proof that change is possible indeed,” said Marina Schmid, Global Project Manager for the Mercy Ships Medical Capacity Building Program. “He is a changemaker in his own country, an example to everyone else. He’s the reason we’re doing what we’re doing. MCB is all about enabling, building up, and encouraging people just like him.”

Learn more about how Medical Capacity Building is impacting nations and strengthening healthcare systems here: https://www.mercyships.org/what-we-do/medical-training/

Group shot of SAFE Obstetric Anesthesia skills training in Monrovia day 2.