MAP International Meets the President of Liberia with a Gift of Lifesaving Antibiotics Medicine

MAP International and Steve Stirling Meet President Joseph Boakai of Liberia with donation of antibiotics medicine
Steve Stirling and President Joseph Boakai | Executive Mansion-Liberia via Facebook

In a historic and inspiring trip to the West African country of Liberia in April 2024, MAP International met recently elected President Joseph Boakai. They also delivered a generous gift: a $1.8 million donation of lifesaving antibiotics medicine. Led by Steve Stirling, President and CEO of MAP, this delegation to Liberia also included Brooke Allison, MAP’s Programs Director, and Sook Hee Stirling, Steve’s wife. This significant donation and momentous trip reaffirmed MAP’s long-standing and successful partnership with Liberia.

Steve Stirling and MAP: Strengthening Partnerships and Saving Lives in Liberia with a $1.8 Million Gift of Antibiotics

MAP International, a global health nonprofit organization, has a long history of serving the people of Liberia — and their healthcare needs. It has worked in the West African country for over 20 years. Also, in the past year alone, MAP donated $45 million in medicine and health supplies to Liberia.

Steve Stirling and Sook Hee Stirling in Liberia
Steve and Sook Hee Stirling | Executive Mansion-Liberia via Facebook

In his speech before the President of Liberia on April 18, 2024, at the Executive Mansion in the capital city of Monrovia, Steve Stirling reaffirmed this successful history. He also noted how Liberia is personally meaningful to him. Steve and his wife first met Joseph Boakai when he was Vice-President, around 2016. “We fell in love with Liberia.”

Steve followed that with this powerful statement:

“On behalf of MAP’s board of directors, our staff, and our partners, we are so fortunate to be able to partner with the Ministry of Health in providing lifesaving medicine to Liberia”

Presentation of Donation by Brooke Allison, MAP’s Programs Director

Brooke Allison from MAP International presenting donation of antibiotics medicine to Liberia with President Joseph Boakai meeting
Brooke Allison presenting antibiotics donation | Executive Mansion-Liberia via Facebook

After Steve’s rousing speech, he sent the presidential proceedings to Brooke Allison, MAP’s Programs Director. Brooke read from the official certificate given to the Liberia Ministry of Health for the new $1.8 million donation of antibiotics medicine (Erythromycin):

“MAP International is delighted to donate four pallets of antibiotics to the people of Liberia through the Office of the President. This donation signifies a gesture of goodwill, support, and continued dedication toward the healthcare initiatives in Liberia.”

“The antibiotics will help treat more than 80,000 adults and more than 1,600 children, which will contribute significantly to the health and well-being of the citizens of Liberia, particularly in combating infectious diseases and promoting public health.”

“We express our sincere appreciation to the President of Liberia for the acceptance of this donation and for the continued support in advancing the welfare of Liberian people. We look forward to continued and expanded partnership in providing medicine.”

“Why Does MAP Come to a Place Like Liberia?” — Steve Stirling’s Answer

Liberia and West Africa map
Liberia and West Africa map | Google Maps

Later, Steve Stirling discussed how people often ask him, “What’s your passion?” and a variation of “Why do you come to a place like Liberia,” especially considering the country is so far from the United States, with an over 20-hour flight itinerary.

In answering these questions, Steve started by talking about service:

“We are called by God to service. That means to serve others.”

Steve then recounted his experience with polio as a child:

“I realize when I was afflicted by polio when I was one year old, I was not born this way. It was because a vaccine was not available in Korea then. I was in an orphanage for five years, came to America, and I was adopted. So, I can identify with orphans.”

Children in Liberia
Children in Liberia | MAP

Then, Steve tied his childhood experience as an orphan with polio to why he and MAP are so passionate about bringing medicine to a “place like Liberia” that’s so far away:

“The access to medicine shouldn’t be based on where you were born or who your parents are — because we all need access to medicine.”

“Hypertension, cardiovascular, hypertension, diabetes medicine, antibiotics, prenatal vitamins. All these important medicines.”

“And that’s why we are so honored to work with the President to provide these medicines. MAP’s been working in Liberia for over 20 years, and as we celebrate our 70th year of existence, we look forward to hopefully even doubling what we are able to do in Liberia.“

The roomful of people at the Executive Mansion enthusiastically applauded.

President Boakai: “This couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Liberia President Joseph Boakai Meeting with MAP International on April 18, 2024
President Joseph Boakai | Executive Mansion-Liberia

Smiling broadly, President Boakai expressed heartfelt gratitude for the new donation: “This couldn’t have come at a better time,” he said, highlighting the urgency of the country’s healthcare needs.

I want to thank you. I want to thank you,” President Boakai emphatically declared in gratitude for the medicine donation.

Also, as reported by Smart News Liberia, after thanking MAP, the President highlighted the “significance of partnerships” in bringing “affordable and accessible healthcare” to all Liberian citizens. This statement echoes MAP’s mission of bringing “Medicine for All People.”

Steve Stirling also discussed the importance of partnerships. A recent partnership that’s especially crucial is with MAP and the Liberia Ministry of Health. By closely collaborating, MAP and the Ministry of Health can get the medicine to the people of Liberia as efficiently and quickly as possible.

This expeditious distribution is pivotal, for the donated Erythromycin antibiotics medicine, like other recent shipments from MAP to Liberia, is short-dated pharma (under six months expiration date). The collaboration can also help overcome instances of shipments getting held up by customs, which has been a recent challenge.

President Boakai reiterated this need for efficiency too — and provided assurances that the medicine would expeditiously get to the right people, where the medicine is most needed.

(A video of the entire meeting between MAP and President Boakai can be viewed on the Executive Mansion-Liberia Facebook channel)

Inspiring Visits to Villages in Bong County, Liberia

The MAP delegation visited four villages in Bong County — on April 17, the day before meeting the President of Liberia. They saw firsthand how the community has been positively impacted by MAP’s community health development initiatives.

During his speech with the President, Steve Stirling Steve talked about the excursion the day before to villages and programs in Bong County. He saw how the people there have benefited from his and MAP’s work.

Children at school in Bong County, Liberia
Children at school in Bong County, Liberia | MAP

MAP also visited a former leprosy colony, and Steve was pleased with how it has developed, with a school. He talked to the children, and “could see the future of Liberia.” Steve then asked what profession the children wanted to be as adults. Answers included “Doctor, pastor, chemist, and midwife.”

Overcoming Challenges at John F. Kennedy Medical Center

The team also visited John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFKMC) in Monrovia on April 19. The healthcare system in Liberia faces significant challenges, as evidenced by conditions at the JFK Medical Center.

Serving as the largest referral hospital in the nation, JFKMC contends with a scarcity of essential resources such as medicine, equipment, and infrastructure, which makes it difficult to provide the high standard that’s needed for patients. Bureaucratic hurdles and procurement challenges exacerbate the situation, making access to affordable, high-quality medicine and supplies a constant struggle.

MAP International Delivery of Medicine to John F Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia, Liberia
Delivery of medicine to JFK Medical Center | MAP

MAP International partners with JFKMC to help alleviate these challenges by providing critical supplies to ensure consistent access to quality care, particularly for those in underserved and remote communities across Monrovia. Brooke Allison acknowledged the need for high-quality medicines and how MAP’s shipments directly support access to essential medications across the country, especially in the more remote areas.

By addressing these barriers, MAP strives to improve the quality of healthcare delivery at JFKMC and ensure that more Liberians receive the medical support they need.

Brainstorming Session with Brooke and Action Transforming Lives (ACTS)

Brooke Allison and Action Transforming Lives Staff
Brooke Allison and Action Transforming Lives Staff | MAP

Brooke Allison was moved by the spirit and resilience of the local healthcare providers and NGO staff. Despite facing significant challenges, they remain hopeful and driven to make a difference.

Also, Brooke had the opportunity to sit down with MAP’s local NGO partner, Actions Transforming Lives (ACTS), for a brainstorming session on strengthening Liberia’s healthcare system. While MAP’s work with JFK Medical Center is vital, ACTS plays a crucial role in supporting communities often overlooked due to their remoteness.

Magdalene, the Finance Officer for ACTS, shared the story of a woman who tragically died during childbirth while walking to a health center. In some communities, women must walk an entire day to reach a maternity center, hoping to find refuge in a guest house to give birth safely.

While challenges with the healthcare system can be disheartening, the ACTS staff remained “energized and hopeful.” The group brainstormed questions like, “What can we do to get the healthcare to them or get them to the healthcare?” and “How can we expand services in remote areas?” They focused on overcoming barriers to access and ensuring that healthcare services can reach every corner of the country.

Together, they dreamed big, inspired by Margaret Mead’s words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

As shown by this brainstorming session, ACTS and other local NGOs are deeply committed to serving their communities. In closing, Brooke said, “Every life has value no matter where they are, and I was fortunate enough to sit among a group of people who ruthlessly prioritize making that a reality.”

Next Steps for MAP International in Liberia

Village in Liberia
Village in Liberia | MAP

Challenges persist in delivering healthcare to Liberia, including infrastructure limitations, corruption, and systemic barriers. Nevertheless, MAP International remains committed to fostering positive change through partnerships.

The next steps following this trip include:

Strengthen Partnerships: Repair and build the relationship following the presidential transition and the appointment of new leaders at JFK Medical Center.

Resolve Roadblocks to Growth: Address issues stemming from the transition that pose roadblocks to growth. By visiting Liberia in person, MAP can tackle these problems more expediently and efficiently.

Support JFK Medical Center: Explore new ways to support JFK Medical Center, identifying specific needs and opportunities through high-level meetings.

Enhance Community Health: Continue to explore community health development work to deepen the impact of MAP’s medicine programs.

Laying the Groundwork for Sustainable Health with Historic Presidential Trip

Children Walking in Liberia
Children walking in Liberia | MAP

MAP’s April 2024 trip to Liberia with Steve Stirling, his wife Sook Hee, and Brooke Allison to meet President Joseph Boakai was historic, inspiring, and productive — and a sign of positive things to come.

The $1.8 million gift of antibiotics medicine will provide relief to tens of thousands of Liberian people suffering from infectious diseases. Furthermore, the $45 million donations of medicine and health supplies in the past year alone bring healing to many more. Plus, by directly addressing the challenges that Liberia faces — and exploring solutions with partners, MAP helps lay the groundwork for sustainable health.

As Liberia looks ahead, MAP International aims to play a pivotal role in ensuring the health and well-being of the people of the West African country well into the future.

MAP International delegation and friends in Liberia
MAP International delegation and friends in Liberia | MAP
Brooke Allison and friends in Liberia
Brooke Allison and friends in Liberia | MAP