Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today is Thanksgiving. Although I won't be feasting on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie, I can definitely say I have a lot to be thankful for:

  • Health - I've only been sick 3 times since coming to SL in 2005 and only required time in bed with ORS and paracetamol.
  • Safety on the road - I've been in a couple of near-accidents, but have been kept safe on the roads and avoided major incidents
  • Electricity - well, we didn't have NPA for a week, but now have power again. YAY.
  • Water - so far so good, we've had a long stretch with water. Now that the rains have stopped we'll have to get water bowsers (trucks) to fill the water tank.
  • Friends - grateful for a good group of friends around me, both colleagues at work and others in the international community especially
  • Africa Mercy - even though I have only been onboard a few times in the last two months, it is great to have the ship here. Especially in the first 6 months I was onboard a lot, both for work and pleasure. It has been a blessing to be able to send patients to the ship for diagnostics and treatment.
  • Family - I really miss them, especially getting to know my nieces and nephew.
  • Internet - It's not been working well at the hospital and we still don't have it at the house, but at least there are places I can go to access the internet, which is especially good for facebook and skype.
  • Life - we had a morbidity and mortality meeting today. 152 children died in October. That's a lot of death. The average life expectancy here is less than 50 years of age. There are funerals all the time. I am happy to be alive today.
  • Chocolate - chocolate bars, chocolate milk, chocolate anything. Chocolate makes me smile. I know my diet is pretty poor here (as in, I skip too many meals, and hardly eat meat), and chocolate probably doesn't help matters much. But the happiness it brings is worth a lot!
  • Beaches - rainy season is over, I think. It actually hasn't rained at all this week, not even at night. This means that Saturdays can be spent at the beach again. Thankful. I love the beach. I've also tried to start running again. Coming home around dusk though means I can't run during the week, but weekend, here I come.
There is so much more I am thankful for! A de tel papa God plenti tenki!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hot from the press...

Kuwait Fund Gives US$15m to the Health Ministry in Sierra Leone

The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Haja Hawa Zainab Bangura has disclosed that her ministry has received $15 million United States dollars from the Kuwait Fund which will be used to upgrade the Ola During Children’s Hospital. She said the money will also be used to commence post-graduate training, build oxygen and fluid factories and also revealed that by next year 13 doctors will be sent to further their studies abroad.

She was addressing the press at the Information and Communications Ministry yesterday Thursday November 17, 2011 where she maintained that by next year, they will be building 49 health facilities. “Three hundred and fifthy (350) State Enrolled Community Health Nurses, three hundred (300) State Registered Nurses will be employed and three hundred (300) doctors are expected to graduate from COMAHS. They will be given full residential and horsemanship training to fully prepare them to meet the challenges in the health sector,” Minister Bangura revealed.

She stated that there are presently 21 hospitals nationwide, in which 18 provide Free Health Care facilities, and that they also intend to have at least 8 doctors in every district hospital. She said out of the 40 Gynaecologists needed only one is available in Sierra Leone. She also affirmed that the distribution of the Free Health Care drugs is one of their major problems in terms of accessibility.

The Minister also revealed that they will continue the distribution of the Free Health Care Drugs nationwide today. She said the Free Health Care policy was introduced by President Ernest Bai Koroma for children under 5 and lactating mothers so as to meet the MDG’s 4&5. She said they have 140 containers of drugs worth US$11m in stores, and 52 of the 140 containers will be distributed nationwide and the exercise is expected to end on the 15th December, 2011.

“To achieve an effective delivery process we have put strategies in place so that no discrepancy will be reported in the delivery process and that 6% loss was reported during the initial delivery process. Initially the problems we had include infrastructure, human resources and combined criminal acts, but all these have been sorted out and this will enable the drugs reach the real beneficiaries,” Minister Bangura stressed with optimism.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sierra Leone elections: One year to go...

I believe it was last week that the electoral commissioner, Christiana Thorpe, announced that the presidential elections in Sierra Leone will take place on Novmeber 17th 2012. That’s one year from today.

Will His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, APC, be re-elected as president or will another party take the lead? Only time will tell.

I clearly remember the elections that took place in 2007. Everyone was wondering whether or not they would pass peacefully. While thousands, actually about 2 million, people went to the polling stations to vote, we were confined to our team house compound on Lumley road. Just in case. Fortunately, both the first round of elections and the run-off was peaceful. Fingers crossed the same will happen this time around. I’ll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Another day of bliss...

Today is a lazy Saturday. I didn't sleep much last night and was woken up early for various reasons, one being very loud music coming from the compound next door, but I managed to get out the door before 10 with my flat mate. We headed for Bliss patisserie. Our plan was brunch and internet. The internet was slow at first but picked up as the morning progressed.

After a busy week it's great to have some down time. The week was a bit unusual. On Monday we worked as usual. Tuesday marked the start of Comic Relief funding. Wednesday we attended the opening ceremony for the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association. The Minister of Health officially opened the Congress and a very experienced paediatrician, Dr Robbin-Coker, gave the key message. Since the theme this year was Child Health, it was very relevant to us and worth going. It was also a good place to network! Thursday I spent the day with three doctors from King's College in London. It was a very good/productive day, but kept me from my usual work. We met with key people in both the Children' s and Maternity hospital and also made a visit to Kissy Mental Hospital. On Friday work was as usual and ended with a management meeting in the afternoon. A meeting that should take place every month, but hadn't taken place since July. After that I was ready to call it a day but got caught up with some patient care - trying to find a patients chart for re-admission and trying to convince the dispenser to dispense ceftriaxone to one of the children on the general ward. It's a long story, but we tend to have a complicated medication system.

Anyway, it's great to have a day off. I have a Board meeting tomorrow afternoon - by skype! We'll see how that goes. It's supposed to be a skype meeting with two of us from Freetown, two people in the UK and two people in the USA. We'll see what happens. Monday is a public holiday (Eid) and seeing as we've all been working pretty hard, we thought we would plan a mandatory team outing to the beach! We'll see what happens. For now, I am going to enjoy a crepe with apples and ice cream.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Green light from Comic Relief...

A few months ago Welbodi Partnership was awarded a three-year grant from Comic Relief to support the work we are doing at the Ola During Children’s Hospital. We are happy to say that the funding should be released today, November 1st. The money from Comic Relief will enable us to support bigger projects that will have a greater impact on the care provided in the hospital. Of course, in leading up to the money being released we have taken the time to improve our financial systems and make processes more robust. We are now ready to GO!

In the next few months, as the grant starts up, we will continue to develop monitoring and evaluation tools. We do not simply want to fund projects and walk away, we want to be able to show three years down the line that the money spent has had a positive impact here at Ola During. We will not only look at the affect on the child mortality rate but also look at the impact of our work on parent satisfaction, staff satisfaction, staff empowerment and the quality of care provided by the doctors and nurses. These are all areas in which we hope to make a positive change. Together with our partners at ODCH and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation we hope to make this grant a huge success.

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~