Testing Integrated Approaches to Address NTDs in Liberia
Feb 12, 2021
Health Workers Confront NTDsRegistered nurse Gertrude Kollie serves as doctor, administrator and pharmacist at the Palala Clinic in the Kpaii district of Bong County. It’s not unusual for a clinic’s Officer in Charge (OIC) to be a nurse, especially in rural areas, since Liberia has few doctors to serve its 4.6 million people (WHO reported 168 in 2015). As the OIC at Palala for the past two years, Gertrude oversees the facility’s daily operations and diagnoses the patients. She participated in a recent health worker training created by the project so she could learn more about NTDs. During the training, Gertrude was surprised to learn that there are people living with leprosy, Buruli ulcer (BU), lymphatic filariasis (LF) and other NTDs in Liberia. In nursing school, she explained, these diseases were mentioned briefly, as if they didn’t exist. Students didn’t receive information on the diagnosis and management of NTDs.
Gertrude Kollie is a registered nurse and the Officer in Charge at Palala Clinic in Bong County. She participated in our project’s NTD training for healthcare practitioners.
A Way ForwardThis new pilot program makes it possible to detect and refer NTD cases earlier, addressing issues of healthcare access and preventing disability. With better case finding tools and MMDP services, healthcare providers like Gertrude can more effectively treat NTDs and prevent lifelong consequences like disability. As our project seeks to identify the most effective MMDP model for Liberia’s NTD Program, the pilot program helps create a proven foundation to implement and scale up an integrated model. We’re proud to contribute to an endeavor with the potential to positively impact people affected by NTDs in Liberia.
This project—Identifying the optimal delivery model for the identification, confirmation and referral of NTD cases requiring MMDP services within an integrated health systems approach to NTD care in Liberia—received financial support from the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD), which is funded at The Task Force for Global Health primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, by the UK aid from the British government, and by the United States Agency for International Development through its Neglected Tropical Diseases Program.