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"How Liberia’s Frontline Health Workers are Protecting us all"

The BBC interviewed Dr. Paula Tavrow, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of community health sciences, about the success of Liberia’s paid, professional community health worker program in helping the West African country react quickly to potential infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID-19 and Ebola

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

When Cynthia Luogon and her young son became feverish and started vomiting one night, she feared the worst. It was 2014, and an epidemic of Ebola – the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever that can cause uncontrollable internal bleeding – was spreading like wildfire across West Africa.

Without phone signal or access to a vehicle, several of Luogon’s neighbours in the remote Liberian village of Gipo – just nine miles (15km) from the border with neighbouring Guinea – were forced to carry the pair in a hammock for over an hour to the nearest health facility. "I thought I was going to die," she says.

Luogon, now 35 and with nine children, was initially suspected of having Ebola, but later diagnosed with cholera. She eventually recovered after being treated. "We were lucky," she says. "But plenty others passed away in those days."