As Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, struggle to combat the virulent Ebola Virus Disease (EDV) wreaking havoc among their populations, the deficient health care systems in these countries are being severely overtasked, casting a pall over their ability to effectively combat the disease.
In Liberia in particular, after a 14-year civil war which devastated the country’s health care infrastructure, the Ebola epidemic could potentially reach catastrophic proportions without significant international medical support to buttress the country’s shell-shocked health care system.
“The health care system and infrastructure are very poor,” ABC News quoted Dr. Anne Marie Beddoe, a gynecologist with Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, regarding Liberia’s health infrastructure. “Handling an outbreak of this magnitude only highlights the deficiencies in personnel and equipment.”
And, you can take Dr. Beddoe’s word about Liberia’s “very poor” health care system as the gospel truth. Because, since 2008, she and her husband, Dr. Peter Dottino, have been involved in successive medical missions to help improve the delivery of health care in the country.
But, to truly appreciate the dire conditions of Liberia’s health care system even before the Ebola outbreak, and grasp what Dr. Beddoe is referring to, all one has to do is to watch Lay Your Trouble Down. The film follows Dr. Beddoe and a team of international doctors as they work to save lives at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, Liberia’s main hospital, a dismally under-resourced facility.
The documentary is at once tragic and emotionally-tasking to witness the deplorable conditions of the hospital and the trail of deaths from treatable ailments, yet at the same time, inspiring and hopeful, as the team works with their Liberian counterparts to care for patients and set up a chemotherapy clinic for women with cervical cancer.