Liberian midwives are being trained as surgeons to assume the role of maternal health doctors killed by Ebola, according to a recent episode of The Cure, Al Jazeera’s award-winning medical series.
The Ebola epidemic killed 184 doctors in Liberia, creating a chronic skills shortage. “In the last government report, Liberia had only 117 practicing doctors [in a country of 4.5m people],” says Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, the South African doctor that went to Liberia to investigate. “This depleted healthcare system is being supported by midwives, who through no other choice, are taking on the risks of surgery to help hundreds of mothers facing difficult and possibly life-threatening births…”
The process is called task shifting and is run by international charity Maternal Childcare Advocacy International. The project started at CB Dunbar maternity hospital in rural Bong County. The success at CB Dunbar has resulted in the project being rolled out to two more hospitals.
Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng is said to have witnessed the ailing situation of hospitals in Liberia. This has led to the commissioning of the project of training midwives to become surgeons.