Health Workers on the Frontlines of the Ebola Epidemic in Liberia

As we are well aware, the Ebola virus epidemic has swept across three West African countries -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- and touched others, including the United States.

In Liberia, which has suffered the worst of the epidemic, JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) staff have been on the frontlines of the Ebola response for the past several months, training health care workers, managing supply chain logistics and contact tracing. But our presence there predates the epidemic.

In 2008, in the ashes of a 14-year civil war, JSI began implementing the USAID-funded Rebuilding Basic Health Services (RBHS) program, which developed the health system that is now grappling with the overwhelming demands of the Ebola epidemic. But six years is not enough time to establish systems that are strong enough to withstand the toll of fast-moving and terrifying epidemics.

In July 2014, RBHS activities shifted entirely to supporting the Liberian government's Ebola response, including infection control and prevention and health worker training at all levels. Our goal is to help the Liberian government overcome the epidemic and resume strengthening the national health system so it can swiftly contain the next public health crisis.

The JSI team, primarily composed of Liberians, are living and working through this devastating epidemic. They remain steadfast in their commitment to helping members of their families, communities and county protect themselves and care for the sick by providing sound information, training in safe practices and protective equipment.

In the coming weeks, I will feature blogs from our staff in Liberia, which will provide insight into their work and lives in this epic time. We honor their courage and compassion as they put themselves in danger for the greater good.