Liberia 8.3. – 16.3.2012

Exploration trip Liberia

When we stepped out of the airport into the heat after uncomplicated  immigration formalities, we first noticed the clean paths and the beautiful and colorfully dressed Liberian women who were welcoming their family members. But of course, this is only one side of Monrovia, the other one is a breathtaking megacity with only few streets leading in or out which are often blocked by honking cars and mopeds.

Garbage, if collected at all, is being burnt on the streets, and a lot of people can only survive with the support of their emigrated relatives. There is hardly any public transport. After taking office, “Ma Ellen” (the affectionate nick-name of Liberia's President) arranged that young soldiers received 300 US dollars when handing in their weapons. With this money they were able to buy mopeds which now serve as taxis.

The first contact between the Liberian ambassador in Berlin, the honorary consul Michael Kölsch, and Elisbeth von Wedel was established 3 years ago. Now Margret Gieraths-Nimene, the director of the GERLIB clinic, asked for a possible commitment of HOG in Liberia.

Our intention for this trip therefore was to get an impression of the circumstances and conditions on site, to establish ties with important institutions like the Ministry of Health, the university, and other NGOs, and to hold a first workshop with medically trained personnel.

Three doctors, one medical assistant, two nurses, one midwife, and the technical director of a laboratory took part in the two-day workshop.

Interest in homeopathy was great, and there were lively and sophisticated discussions about the advantages and the differences to academic medicine. We were impressed by the accuracy of the anamnesis and the observations due to the lack of technical diagnostics, which could be a great advantage for homeopathic training. There is also a great awareness of the problems of side-effects and the development of resistance in conventional medicine. Together with Margret Gieraths-Nimene we visited two hospitals where we were shown around willingly. Conditions and prospects were incredibly bad in both places and quite depressing.

In contrast, the GERLIB clinic appeals by calmness and qualified personnel. One day we took the chance to watch the medical assistant and the midwife during their work to get a clear impression of the most frequent clinical disease patterns and the medical practice.

The country still is severely traumatized by the recent civil war. Many things do not work, starting with dirt and waste, high unemployment rates up to widespread corruption. But there there are also a hopeful pioneer spirit, many improvements, and professional commitment. In the beginning, several times we felt an upcoming reflex to escape but at the same time would have liked to start immediately building the teaching ambulance with the firm conviction that homeopathy is particularly useful right here.

Elisabeth von Wedel and Gesine Seeck

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