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Tackling the neglected in Sierra Leone

8 October 2018


During our monitoring visit to Sierra Leone we met with Andrew Sesaye, a Community Health Officer (CHO) at the Bimkolo Health Centre, Bombali district.

Andrew is really excited to be a part of the REACH: RCGP Education for Advancing Community Health project, which builds on the pilot NCD work that the partnership delivered in 2017. Here’s what he had to say.

“My name is Andrew Sesaye and I am the Community Health Officer here and am in chare of the Bimkolo Health Centre. Bimkolo is the headquarter town of the chiefdom, which has nine other health facilities. This facility is the referral centre for all of the others.

We offer many health services here including deliveries, post-natal services and family planning services – HIV, testing and treatment, TB testing and management. We also deliver under-five care and treat general cases also. Almost everything!

This is a busy health centre. We have conducted two deliveries just this morning and another lady is in the last stages of labour as we speak. Per day we see around 30 – 35 patients and Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are always particularly busy days. On Monday all staff are here and so everyone comes because they know we are all here and they know they will be seen quickly and correctly. Wednesday is the day for pregnant mothers to come, and on Friday we see malnourished children. We stay at the facility every day until the patients finish coming.

The most common conditions that we see are malaria, respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and hypertension. We are seeing more and more patients with hypertension now due to the training we received from Dr Padwan last year as we are able to identify it. So we are screening them and tracking a lot of them now.

Following the training we asked all of the adults to come for hypertension screening. Most who did arrive did not realise that they had high blood pressure until we had screened them. So now they know that they have elevated blood pressure and come for routine checks. We are trying to extend this to the other facilities so that they can do the same thing, because people may have hypertension but they don’t know until they have a stroke.

Just this morning I saw a patient who had had a severe stroke and travelled from another facility – she is doing well because she can now walk without support but she is still dragging her leg and you can see the foot circling. She is 48, really young. It is so young here because of their social habits; they are drinking alcohol, some are smoking, and so we really have a lot to do. Sometimes we go out to tell them to stop drinking alcohol. Those are the practices that are leading them to become hypertensive, but many are also not going for check-ups and screening.

Now Dr Kiran is here as part of the new project. We sit and put our heads together and carry out proper diagnosis. He teaches me, we share together and we see new things every day. He shows me what he knows. I then pass this on to the three others that are in my office so they can learn and treat patients too.”


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