Ganta Hospital in Liberia to reopen March 15
Feb. 18, 2004
By Linda Bloom*
to emerge from a near-total destruction of its facilities last summer,
the United Methodist Ganta Hospital in Liberia plans to restore some
basic services by March 15.
Cherian Thomas, an executive with the
health and relief unit of the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries, confirmed that the hospital will be reopened to provide
outpatient and emergency services, as well as 30 inpatient beds for
maternal deliveries and medical emergencies.
Herbert and Mary
Zigbuo, board missionaries assigned to Liberia, reported they were able
to take a truckload of building supplies to Ganta when they returned
Jan. 9. "These supplies will enable us to get a few of the buildings in
livable and workable condition to reopen the hospital by March 15 as
well as provide a few residences for essential mission station staff,"
they said in a Feb. 12 e-mail message.
Those residences are a
crucial part of securing future funding, according to Thomas. "There are
a number of agencies willing to help, but they want someone on the
grounds," he explained.
Built in 1926, the hospital is part of a
larger mission facility that includes primary and secondary schools,
vocational training programs, a demonstration farm and a leprosy and
tuberculosis rehabilitation unit. Its nursing school was considered one
of the best in the country. In addition to Liberians, the complex served
people from neighboring Guinea and the Ivory Coast.
the leprosy unit, most buildings were ruined by the actions of
government and rebel forces in 2003. The destruction came after the
Board of Global Ministries had invested $300,000 in renovations, such as
the installation of new water and electricity lines and addition of new
buildings, during the two previous years, Thomas said.
Agency for International Development had invested $1.2 million into a
three-year project at Ganta Hospital for a prosthetic and orthopedic
workshop, according to Jim Cox, executive director of the United
Methodist Committee on Relief Nongovernmental Organization. The project
was coming to an end, Cox said, but officials were trying to decide how
to integrate the workshop into the rest of the hospital when all was
The board’s health and welfare department has provided
$40,000 in severance pay to the 150 Ganta staff members who were laid
off when the facility was shut down, according to Thomas. One Liberian
doctor is there now, along with Beatrice Gbanga of Sierra Leone, who is a
nurse and missionary coordinator of community-based primary health care
for West Africa. "She’s going to help in starting the community
outreach," he said.
The hospital’s assistant administrator, Harry
Wonyene, has been studying in India for two years. He will complete a
master’s degree in hospital administration in June and resume duties at
Ganta, he added.
The Zigbuos reported that Ganta residents have
returned to the area to find their homes either looted or destroyed by
rocket fire. "There is much suffering in and around the Ganta area,"
they wrote. "Food is still difficult to come by. Farmers have been
unable to plant their gardens, so there is nothing to harvest. People
exist by hunting, trapping and gleaning old gardens and farms."
of the Goompa District of the Liberian church, which includes Ganta,
initiated a cleanup campaign at the mission station last September.
Without their assistance, the Zigbuos said, "the loss would have been
even more than it stands now."
Operation Classroom, a United
Methodist mission project, provided funds to provide two months of back
pay for teachers and do minimal repairs to open the Ganta school
buildings, so class is back in session for students who have returned.
The Zigbuos also have been able to buy rice in Monrovia for the workers
who have been cleaning up the mission station. They hope that food
relief organizations will set up shop in Ganta soon, but recognize that
help may be two or three months away.
Last November, Bishop John
Innis of the Liberian United Methodist Church, estimated that it would
take $200,000 or more just to fix the hospital infrastructure. The
United Methodist Committee on Relief has set up a separate fund for
rebuilding Ganta Hospital. Donations can be designated to UMCOR Advance
No. 150385 and dropped in church collection plates or mailed to 475
Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Credit-card donations can
be made by calling toll free (800) 554-8583.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News Media Contact: Linda Bloom · (646)369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org