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Lead Community Health Officer - Bimkolo Health Centre
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Sierra Leone has a population of over 6 million people, yet there is only an estimated 235 Sierra Leonean doctors serving the population. As a country, Sierra Leone has experienced a devastating war which lasted over a decade and in 2014-2015, the country was hit with the outbreak of Ebola which caused the deaths of almost 4,000 people in Sierra Leone and led to an even greater decrease in qualified and trained health professionals as it is estimated that over 200 doctors and nurses died during the outbreak.
Andrew Sesaye is a Community Health Officer at the Bimkolo Health Centre in the Bombali district and he is part of the REACH: RCGP Education for Advancing Community Health project, which builds on the pilot Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) work that the partnership delivered in 2017.
When I was a young boy, my uncle became very ill with severe stomach pain. There was a community health officer who came to examine his illness, treated him and my uncle got well. Since then I have admired the work that community health workers do. How they are able to help patients who are sick become healthy and I wanted to do the same. This particular health worker helped me to get the education and training that I needed to become a health officer myself. I am now the lead community health officer at the Bimkolo Health Centre, in the Bombali district of Sierra Leone.
Last year, community health officers at the health centre received training on hypertension by Dr Padwan and now we do more hypertension screenings for the patients who attend our facility, many of whom are young and often are not aware that they have high blood pressure until we have screened them. Recently, I saw a woman who was only in her 40s and had a stroke. She had travelled 3 miles to reach our health centre. Due to the care she received, she is showing great improvement and can now walk without support.
With the support and training provided by the REACH: RCGP Education for Advancing Community Health project, we are able to offer a variety of health services to the local community. The most common conditions we treat are hypertension, malaria and urinary tract infections.
As a community health officer, every day is exciting and dynamic. Being in this field has taught me a lot, and I am able to share learnings with colleagues. The best thing about being a community health officer, is the fact that I am able to help my family members. If my child gets sick, I will be able to treat them and that is a huge plus for me.
Community Health Officer
Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry- Masanga Hospital, Sierra Leone
The partnership, which began in 2015, 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 mobile device apps to increase community awareness of infection prevention measures.
“Medicine was something I dreamt of since I was in high school and it was a career I admired greatly. I wanted to work hard for my community and country to help save lives.
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 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). Together with other UK based medical volunteers I trained more than 1,000 community members and over 300 healthcare workers.
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 and education. I believe the project will serve as a turning point for me in my career.”
“I have been in post at Kambia District Hospital since August 2012. I attended the IHLFS training course in November 2012. It was a unique opportunity for me since in Kambia no further training is provided to midwives once they are qualified.
In Sierra Leone women do not like to deliver at the hospital. They prefer to deliver at home, but things go wrong and they seek care too late. This then makes our job too difficult to save them. One woman had just arrived here at the maternity ward. She came to the hospital with a fever, but we found that she had a ruptured uterus. If she had come to us sooner it would have been easier for us to help her, and the outcome might have been more positive. But we lost her.”
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