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Ebola Emergency - Information concerning our Centres in Liberia and Sierra Leone

We should like to give you some information about the present situation in the Order’s Centres in these two countries where, during the months of July and August, a number of Brothers and co-workers died after contracting the Ebola virus. At the Hospital of Saint Joseph in Monrovia (Liberia) Brothers Patrick Nshamdze, George Combey and  Miguel Pajares lost their lives (Pajares who fell ill in Liberia, was repatriated to Spain, where he died). Also killed were Sister Chantal Mutwameme and five Co-Workers – three women and two men.  At the Hospital of St John of God in Lunsar (Sierra Leone) Ebola killed eight Co-Workers – three men and five women – including  a student nurse in her last year of training. All died of Ebola in the performance of their duty of assisting the sick.

 Let us recall and honour their memories once again, and thank the Lord for their testimony of hospitality on behalf of our Hospitaller Family and of the whole Church. At the same time we ask them to let their living testimony yield abundant fruits for the Church and the Order, just as a kernel of wheat dies to produce new life.

 In agreement with health authorities in the respective countries, both of these hospitals have remained closed for disinfection after Ebola patients were hospitalized there. Work on reopening the Lunsar hospital began on 9 September and will be completed in several phases. But the Monrovia hospital is staying shut although we are working in coordination with national health authorities to make sure it reopens as soon as possible.

 With the support of the Spanish NGO Juan Ciudad, a three-person group arrived in Monrovia on 25 August in order to assess the situation on the ground, gather information and prepare for the reopening of the hospital, which will be handled by Brothers from the Province of St Augustine after they reach the capital. They were expected to start arriving on 13 September. We thank the team members for making themselves available and for their good work in collaboration with national health authorities, with the Apostolic Nuncio and the Archbishop of Monrovia, the NGO John Ciudad, the Provincial Curia of St Augustine and the General Curia. A meeting will be held in Accra (Ghana) on 22 September to work out the last details to be resolved before the hospital reopens, hopefully in the first few days of October.

 As concerns the Ebola epidemic situation, you will certainly have heard about it through the media. It is currently still out of control in both Liberia and Sierra Leone, where new cases of contagion and deaths continue to occur. We hope, however, that the measures which authorities are taking can slowly start producing positive results and that the situation improves. That is why it is important to take every precaution while working and to adopt all necessary measures to avoid further contagion.  While it is difficult to say when the epidemic can be brought under control, it is certain that it will take several months at least.  Meanwhile, given the situation, our hospitals will devote themselves to looking after non-Ebola patients, and it will therefore be necessary to keep a close watch on admissions in order to keep the virus from coming in.

 Human, material and economic resources are needed for the two hospitals to remain open.  Both must be kept operational while at the same time personnel costs must be met throughout the period of closure given that staff have no other sources of income and that it may be some time before the facilities reopen. That is why we launched a campaign in July calling on the whole Order for a show of solidarity and of generosity towards the hospitals and  the populations of Liberia and Sierra Leone.   We are currently extending the campaign beyond the Order to various institutions in the Church and Civil Society which have shown themselves prepared to help us both economically and in in kind, through the provision of medical supplies.

 We should like to express our gratitude to the whole Order for the generosity shown during this campaign; and to thank the Provinces, Communities, Centres and individuals, and the Brothers, Co-Workers and friends who contributed. To date we have received a total of 363,686.59 euro, of which 100.000 has been sent to the two hospitals to be used there. The total amount needed in the two hospitals from 1 September to the end of the year is forecast at around 700,000 euro. We are therefore continuing to work to raise further resources in order to cover current needs while also bearing in mind that we will have to continue helping the two centres in the future as well.

 In that sense, the campaign which we launched to ask the whole order for its help and collaboration is still open in order for us to respond to the kind of emergency we face in that part of the world. We therefore call on your solidarity once more and ask you to circulate this appeal among other organizations in your country as far as possible. Should you need more information, please do not hesitate to contact the Missions and International Cooperation Office at the General Curia.

 The example of our bretheren and Co-Workers who died of Ebola spurs us to live Hospitality in the most profound possible way, by being generous and showing solidarity towards our brothers and sisters afflicted by disease.

 We thank all Brothers, Sisters and Co-Workers who continue to assist populations tormented by epidemics and suffering; they are truly witnesses to the Hospitality of St John of God. We also thank the institutions and individuals who, directly or indirectly, are helping us to continue our mission in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

 Wirth a fraternal embrace, united in Christ and Saint John of God,

General Curia

Missions and International Cooperation Office,

Rome, 10 September 2014




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