|Role||Community Health Officer|
Mohamed Kallon Mansarey is a qualified community health officer (CHO) who studied at the School of Community Health and Clinical Sciences, Njala University in Bo.
The partnership between the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and Masanga Hospital, Sierra Leone, began in 2015 and has improved the capacity and sustainability within the Sierra Leonean Health Service to improve resilience to future outbreaks of viral haemorrhagic fever. In particular, the iCare project sought to use apps to increase community awareness of infection prevention measures.
The project reached 46 rural communities and for some of these areas, iCare outreaches were the very first humanitarian aid initiative since the end of the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. 1221 health care workers and community members took part in the module. As a result of the training, all showed a significant increase in knowledge and intentions to change behaviour.
“Medicine was something I dreamt of since I was in high school and it was a career I admired greatly. My aunt was a nurse and I used to see her attend and treat patients. It’s a unique job that requires a lot of work but it is hugely rewarding. I wanted to work hard for my community and country to help save lives.
I had worked with NGOs and in Peripheral Health Units (PHU) prior to joining the Masanga Hospital Rehabilitation Project (MHRP) in 2016.
Through my work at Masanga I was asked to work with the THET iCare project which sought to train healthcare workers and community members on infection prevention control (IPC) in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. The project used iPads and two custom designed interactive apps; one to teach healthcare workers to don and doff personal protective equipment in a step by step manner and another for community members. The latter was a Krio animated app designed for low-literacy users that followed the story of a villager during the Ebola outbreak. Participants would have to identify sources of infection and were tested on how to notify and isolate a suspected Ebola case. The project aimed to assess the benefit of using technology to teach in community outreach settings and its effectiveness in influencing behaviour change towards IPC.
The training was done across Tonkolili district, Northern Province, where the ratio between the number of health workers and the population is among the lowest in the country (3.98/10,000). The lack of access to healthcare professionals means that delivering outreach training can play a significant role for public health. Together with other UK based medical volunteers I trained more than 1,000 community members and over 300 healthcare workers.
When I was not away on outreach visits I worked in Masanga Hospital outpatient department and on the on call rota covering the emergency, paediatric, maternity and surgical wards. Being a CHO requires a broad range of knowledge to cover all aspects of medicine and surgery. I also helped to improve IPC practice in the hospital by assisting in the implementation of a monthly audit of IPC measures across the different departments and by conveying weekly meetings to address issues related to IPC in the hospital.
Through the THET partnership I increased my experience, knowledge and skills and learnt that I could provide help to those villages that were neglected and were not easily reached when it comes to health service delivery and education. I believe the project will serve as a turning point for me in my career.”