American Refugee Committee Sets Up Ebola Treatment Unit In Liberia

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minneapolis-based non-profit group is setting up an Ebola treatment center in a remote area of Liberia — an effort that comes with logistical challenges.

The American Refugee Committee is using federal funds to erect what amounts to a tent city in the rural community of Fish Town near the border with Cote d'Ivoire.

"There's a lot of concern in the international community about the spread across the border into neighboring countries and further into the region," the committee's health technical adviser, Heather Buessler told Minnesota Public Radio (http://bit.ly/1yyNhUg ).

The group is dealing with the logistics of setting up the Ebola treatment center and lodging for about 75 people, as well as trucking in water, food and medical supplies.

"We are partnering with the Liberian American community in Minnesota. Representatives from the community have been organizing to respond to the Ebola crisis. And, they came to American Refuge Committee and said they want to respond. They said that they have medical professionals who are ready and willing to deploy," Buessler said from the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

Buessler said there is widespread acceptance in bigger cities that Ebola is a problem.

"Here in Monrovia, it's one of the most hardest hit areas of the country. You see messages all over town here. Ebola is real. You see murals along the walls of the various symptoms, graphic depictions actually of the symptoms, and telling people to go to an ETU (Ebola treatment unit) immediately if they have any of these symptoms," Buessler said. "You hear ambulances going down the street that are presumably being deployed to pick up patients or dead bodies."

That's not the case, though, in rural communities that haven't seen many cases, Buessler said.

"It's easy to understand why residents out in some of these rural areas might not think that this is actually a disease that's hitting their country," she said.

Nearly 5,000 people have died of the disease in this outbreak, the majority of them in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

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