10/2010 US Medical Team in Sierra Leone
Dear Global Giving Contributor,
As the 2010 year comes to a close we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to each of you for supporting the free primary health clinic in Sierra Leone, West Africa. It is through donations such as yours that our clinic has been able to provide quality health care and medications that are saving lives in Freetown.
Our second, 14 member medical team, arrived home safely in mid October after having seen over 500 patients in 6 days. One thing is for certain, the children under five are suffering terribly. Between malnutrition, dehydration and malaria the number of very ill children is staggering.
Word of our clinic is spreading fast through the communities surrounding our clinic and afar. We were told some people left home at 5:00 am and arrived at the clinic 3-5 hours later. And these were very ill people.
The priority list for this trip was quite extensive but the volunteers were well prepped and everyone contributed.
- At the clinic, our US physicians had put together a teaching plan for our SL community health officer (CHO, similar to a PA or nurse practioner in the USA), nurse, pharmacy tech and lab tech. The CHO and nurse were instructed on how to perform a basic physical exam and a listing of our clinic formulary with proper dosage amounts for infants through adults was made available to all. Our SL staff worked side by side our US physicians. In the lab, a tech from one of our local hospitals shared some of her clinical knowledge with our SL lab tech and vice versa. Thanks to lending by a local Seattle Hospital we were able to use new sophisticated lab equipment which allowed us to have immediate results of chemistry profiles and blood counts.
- Community Health Education was started with the local councilwoman of the community surrounding our clinic. We discovered that 26,000 voting adults reside in this community with an unknown number of young adults and children. A couple of our USA volunteers came up with an interesting piece of data. In 1 square mile of Seattle proper, there are an estimated 941 people. In 1 square mile in Freetown the capital, at our clinic, that number increases to 18,000 people per square mile. The urban density allows for the passage of so many illnesses. Add to that the lack of clean water and sanitation and it is no wonder that Sierra Leone ranks one of the highest in the world in infant and maternal mortality.
The council woman organized 15 members from all the different communities to come together and begin Community Health Training. They were each given a book and a “teaching bag” to begin introductory teaching of basic health education. We will meet with them again in April 2011 and October 2011 when we are back in the country.
- It became crystal clear that our clinic will never reduce the number of treatable diseases if we do not start treating the underlying conditions causing those illnesses. A walk through of each of the communities was organized by the local council woman. Much to our dismay we discovered that not only is our clinic without water currently, but essentially so is the community surrounding our clinic. For those 26,000 voting adults and unknown number of young adults and children there is only one well that can be counted upon. It is an open well with a pail that is dropped down on a rope. There is a monitor and the water is periodically tested. However, people drink from the pail and the door hatch remains open to the air all day. There are two additional spicket faucets that are attached to the city pipes but they provide only intermittent water. There is also a weeping wall where a natural spring provides water. However, people take this water directly from a small flowing stream intermittently as it flows on the ground. Body washing, clothes washing and drinking all takes place in this water. Intermittently one will find garden hoses that have been illegally attached to the city water pipe that we had laid to provide the clinic with water. Unfortunately the pipe was not buried and all of the illegal tapings has literally “sucked our pipe dry”. And that is it. That is the only “clean” water available to our 26,000 plus residents surrounding our clinic.
- Sanitation is even worse then the water problem as we found that the only public latrines of which there are 8 and the 16 near the clinic are full and have not been emptied in 3 years. They are broken down and most completely unable to be used.
- By April, 2011 we hope to implement a Malnourishment Program for our pregnant mothers, lactating mothers and under 5’s. More on that in my next update.
When we returned to the USA with the realization that we needed to address the water and sanitation problems or we would never be able to begin keeping our clinic community healthy. Within our first week back we were blessed to have been put in touch with a rotary located in the pan handle of Texas. After several conversations they are ready to start raising funds for the installation of wells in and around our clinic. Depending on the funds raised we are hoping to install 25 wells. Of course, my dreams are always BIG so I have challenged them for 100 wells. These would be placed in amputee and polio communities in the provinces and several clinics and a hospital right in Freetown. In my next update I will let you know where we are in that challenge.
Once again to you, our supporters I say thank you. Thank you for your support and your prayers for the people of Sierra Leone and for our clinic community.
In addition to the above work, below is a summary of what has been accomplished this year.
GGM free Primary Health Care Clinic Open 2 days per weekwith over 2500 patients treated.
Two USA medical teams in October 2009 and 2010 treated over 900 patients total between the two visits and a total of 18 health care professionals worked with the SL staff.
GGM introduced Teethsavers who now support 2 women who teach dental hygiene to government schools and hand out tooth brushes and tooth paste to all they teach
Medical supplies and equipment was donated to Connaught Hospital. This included hospital beds, gurneys, surgical instruments, radiology supplies and over 50 boxes of books and disposable equipment. All of this was transported in 2 -40ft. containers through USAID. In addition to the items listed above books, shoes and educational and office supplies, furniture and equipment were shipped. Another 40 ft. container of medical supplies and equipment has been gathered and is awaiting shipping in late January.
The entire National Rehabilitative Compound has been painted and electricity upgraded.
GGM USA introduced EMPACT, a northwest NGO, who will begin developing an emergency medical program at Connaught Hospital
Team in front of GGM Clinic sign
By 8:00 am 40-50 people will have already arrived
Latrines so full the locals have quit using them
The one dependable well serving all 26,000 plus
Dr. Keech examining a patient
Land Mine took one leg, other with schrapnel