In 2002, Sierra Leone emerged from a brutal, decade-long civil war. Its infrastructure, including hospitals and medical training, was decimated. Both the country and its people were left broken.
Today, Sierra Leone is at peace but still reeling from the effects of conflict. Healthcare in the nation is almost non-existent: there is one doctor to 10,000 people; no reconstructive surgeons, one orthopaedic surgeon; and, crucially, no graduate medical training.
Sierra Leone and its people need our help to recover; to train the surgeons, nurses and physiotherapists that will help change the face of healthcare in the country and rebuild bodies and lives broken by war.
At the Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, we are developing Sierra Leone’s first reconstructive surgery unit. The infrastructure has been built thanks to the work of Italian charity Fondazione Don Gnocchi and Resurge Africa is now training the staff that will run the unit independently, creating a self-sustaining facility that will eventually provide support and training to other medics in Sierra Leone.
In Ghana, this approach has saw the creation of a thriving reconstructive surgery unit – the country’s first – run by a team of international-standard surgeons and medical staff who deliver training and support to other hospitals in the region. In the Holy Spirit, overseen by the mercurial Dr Patrick Turay and thanks to our generous supporters, we are well on the way to replicating that success.
West Africa’s Ebola outbreak devastated Sierra Leone in February 2014. Up until then, ReSurge Africa was sending regular surgical training visits to the country. Dr Turay and the Holy Spirit Hospital board had to make the difficult decision to close the inpatients department, cancel surgeries and postpone all medical missions to the area by expatriate medical collaborators. In June 2014, we sent a 40ft container of NHS surplus stock to Sierra Leone containing protective equipment that proved invaluable to the staff and patients of Holy Spirit during the outbreak.
During the crisis, our training programme continued outside of Sierra Leone. We are currently supporting two young Sierra Leonean doctors in Ghana through their six-year postgraduate training as reconstructive surgeons.
Dr Eric Wongo is now in his final postgraduate year in Ghana, while Dr Abdulai Jalloh began his postgraduate reconstructive surgery training in January 2013. On their return to the Holy Spirit, they will become their country’s first reconstructive surgeons. While the young doctors study, we’re training the anaesthetists, nurses and therapists needed to run a self-sustaining reconstructive surgery unit in Makeni, ready for their return.
Post Ebola crisis, the local university reopened and we are working with the staff at the Holy Spirit Hospital to secure the future of the department by training its committed, dedicated and passionate nursing team.
Nursing candidates Fatmata Jalloh, Foday Koroma and Augustine Kamara have come to the end of their three year SRN training and are set to return to the Holy Spirit Hospital to take up their places as fully trained SRN Nurses, ready to pass on their skills and knowledge to the nursing cohort, and provide support to the newly trained surgeons and anaesthetist on their return to the Unit.
Balansama Janneh, physiotherapist trainee is well underway with his training in India. ReSurge Africa volunteer physiotherapist is about to take up a place at Holy Spirit to assist with the rebuilding of the Physiotherapy unit which burnt to the ground in a devastating fire in 2016. Gaelle will assist with the training of auxiliary physio staff and the sourcing of vital equipment, ready for when Bala returns to Sierra Leone and take up his place as resident Physiotherapist. Trainee Anaesthetist Dr Mohamed Kargbo is currently training within the Anaesthetics department at Korle-Bu training hospital after spending a year at Ganga Hospital in Coimbatore India.
ReSurge Africa and our USA partner charity Surg+Restore will support Dr Kargbo through his training to qualify as an anaesthetist – he will then return to the Holy Spirit Hospital as part of the fledgling reconstructive surgery unit.
The dedicated and passionate medical team at the Holy Spirit is set to transform the provision of reconstructive surgery in Sierra Leone and create a sustainable hub of healthcare training that will create a brighter future for people throughout the country.
We’re proud to support them throughout their training and we’re proud to continue to support them as they change the face of reconstructive surgery in West Africa.
But none of this would be possible without the support of people like you. Find out how you can help us continue our work in West Africa by donating, volunteering or fundraising.