This week at Resurge Africa we would like to highlight the incredible work of nurse anaesthetist, Lamin Fofanah. Lamin brings ten years of experience to Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, Sierra Leone. Lamin graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Anaesthesia from University of Cape Coast in Ghana and holds diplomas in Anaesthesia and Nursing (SRN) from Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Lamin’s role at Holy Spirit Hospital includes conducting preoperative assessments on surgical patients, administering intraoperative anaesthetics, and post operative management. Lamin is also a vital resource during emergency cases, especially those involving airway compromise. He also lends a hand on the ward during difficult venipunctures. In addition to his clinical work, Lamin participates in and leads weekly teaching sessions for fellow nurses at Holy Spirit Hospital on a variety of patient care topics. Lamin is committed to improving the quality of anaesthetic and post operative care in Sierra Leone through continuing education.
Lamin describes below some of the challenges he faces in providing anaesthetic care within Sierra Leone:
“Anesthesia is a discipline in science that is not well understood by many Sierra Leoneans and hence my role is sometimes not recognized by the patient. I am trying to overcome this by educating them in my preoperative visit a day prior to the [operative] date”
Lamin also describes some operational barriers to care:
“Due to the unavailability of anaesthetic agents, it is difficult to practice the best procedure. This is not easy to overcome due to the country’s policies, especially around the [import] of opioids.”
“I would like to extend my teaching experience to [nurses at the government hospital], as it is one of the objectives of Resurge Africa to [make] sure what is learnt is replicated. Unfortunately, there is no projector to help in that regard.”
Lamin has been integral in providing refresher training for junior anaesthetists in more than four districts in Sierra Leone. He has covered topics such as airway management, neuroaxial block, preoperative assessment, pain management, premedication, fluid and electrolyte balance, pediatric anaesthesia, neonatal resuscitation, and obstetric anaesthesia.
“The trainings were remarkable as the beneficiaries agreed and requested for more and frequent trainings.”
Lamin explains how Resurge Africa has supported his continuing education:
“After my 18 months Diploma in Anaesthesia in Sierra Leone, I was fortunate to be sent to Ghana to pursue my BSc in Anaesthesia. It was a two-year program and everything was singularly sponsored by Resurge Africa. Resurge Africa also sponsored my 3 months trip to India which was immediately preceded my course in Ghana. Resurge also partly sponsored my trip to Kenya for a 3 month training in pediatric anaesthesia (flight and feeding).”
Lamin’s future goals are to “work in collaboration with the University of Makeni and the Spanish team to commence a diploma training program in anaesthesia, which the accreditations process is ongoing.” Resurge Africa is needed to support this, including through obtaining training mannequins and a lecture hall. Lamin also hopes to continue “conducting regular refresher training for colleagues at least twice per year to keep us abreast with modern day techniques”.
“As much as anesthesia is a discipline of learning, I would like to pursue my post graduate study in the same field. Diploma training in nurse anesthetist has been suspended for the past 3 years, we are yet to start the BSc training in the country. If I am given the opportunity to pursue my masters degree in Anaesthesia, I shall surely come back and share the knowledge and making sure we replicate it in Sierra Leone.”
Lamin’s final message is:
“There is no smooth and successful surgery without good anaesthesia and hence the importance of this field of ours.”