International Rescue Committee (IRC)

IRC helps revive Liberia’s weakened health system

A health system on life support

  • A midwife feeding a malnourished infant at a pediatric facility in Monrovia.
  • Two boys who are being treated for acute malnutrition at a Monrovia hospital
  • A mother feeds her infant daughter milk at an IRC-supported hospital.
  • A young girl recovering from surgery in a Monrovia, Liberia hospital.
  • The IRC's Dr. Jude Senkungu examines a malnourished child.
  • Dr. Jude Senkungu with young patients at an IRC-supported hospital
  • A mother tends to her newborn baby in a Monrovia, Liberia hospital.
  • The IRC's Celia Kohn operates on a woman suffering from internal injuries
  • The IRC's Celia Kohn (right), one of only three gynecologists working in Liberia
  • A malnourished baby in a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia
  • The IRC's Celia Kohn examines a young patient at a Monrovia hospital
  • Mothers walk by their children’s beds in the pediatric ward
  • A nurse in Monrovia treats a child suspected of having contracted malaria.

Fifteen years of civil war left Liberia's healthcare system in ruins.  The IRC is providing medicine, doctors and equipment to 33 rural clinics and five hospitals that serve more than 320,000 people. The IRC also supports the largest pediatric facility in the capital, Monrovia. 


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A mother feeding her daughter milk in the ward for malnourished children at Redemption Hospital, another IRC-supported medical facility.
A mother feeding her daughter milk in the ward for malnourished children at IRC-supported Redemption Hospital, on the outskirts of Monrovia. (Photo: Peter Biro/IRC)

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Text and photos by Peter Biro

From 1989 to 2003, Liberia endured two periods of civil war that left much of the country in ruins. The damage to the country’s healthcare system was especially severe. As a result, health indicators in Liberia, including life expectancy and infant mortality, are among the worst in the world.

The country is desperately short of trained doctors, nurses, midwives and laboratory technicians, and health facilities cannot afford to buy drugs and equipment. Moreover, most Liberians are severely impoverished—over 90 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day—making medical care prohibitively expensive.

To help resuscitate the healthcare system, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is providing medicine, doctors and medical equipment to 33 rural clinics and five hospitals that serve more than 320,000 people. The IRC also supports the largest pediatric facility in the capital, Monrovia. 

“We are here to help fill the most critical gaps in Liberia’s health system,” says Allan Freedman, the IRC director in Liberia. “Our efforts are truly lifesaving.”