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 affected by the result of conflict. Healthcare in the nation is resource poor and many doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals were lost to the 2014 Ebola crisis: there is one doctor to 10,000 people; no reconstructive surgeons, one orthopaedic surgeon; and, crucially, no graduate medical training.
With support from our partners Resurge Africa can help 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. In 2020 Covid-19 has impacted the programme greatly, however, we continue to support our trainees as they study remotely, online and continue preparations for exams. Amongst our trainees are:
Dr Eric Wongo and Dr Abdulai Jalloh are now in their final post-graduate year of training. On their return to the Holy Spirit, they will become their country’s first reconstructive surgeons. Meanwhile, we are training the anaesthetists, nurses and therapists needed to run a self-sustaining reconstructive surgery unit in Makeni, ready to support them on their return.
Nursing candidates Fatmata Jalloh, Isata Sesay and Foday Koroma have completed their SRN training and taken up their places at Holy Spirit, 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. Fatmata Jalloh is in her 2nd year of a 2 year BSc in Peri-operative nursing in Ghana and is studying for her final exams. Ibrahim Sankoh is in his 3rd year of a 4 year nursing BSc at Bo University and Anthony Sesay is in year 2 at EBK university. Our nursing trainees receive constant mentoring and further professional development from resurge training director Catherine Liao and visiting Resurge and BSSH surgical teams.
Balansama Janneh, physiotherapist trainee is well underway with his training in India, due to return in April 2022.
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.
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.
Although training visits are currently postponed due to the COVID pandemic, they will resume as soon as it is safe to do so.
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.