Sierra Leone’s eleven-year civil war severely affected the country’s healthcare. Much infrastructure was destroyed and many staff fled for their lives. Ebola then claimed the lives of 10% of the country’s healthcare workers.
Institutions like Nixon Memorial Hospital in eastern Sierra Leone and its nursing school were left struggling and threatened with closure. Yet the school once produced over 75% of nurses for the entire eastern region of the country – an area covering over 15,000 square kilometres with a population of over 1.5 million people.
Tutors like Solomon are passionate about raising up the next generation of healthcare professionals in Sierra Leone and is using books you help to send to support his vital work.
Our challenge was shortage of books. You cannot continue with archaic books that have been written 10 or 15 years ago – other developments have been found.
But I am very happy – last year Practical Tools Initiative (PTI) gave us books from Book Aid International. Now we have up-to-date books – books on anatomy and physiology, books on surgery, midwifery, paediatrics, microbiology. You name them, we have them! Marvellous books. And we are really making good use of them.
For the past week I have been reading the Mims’ Medical Microbiology which is my specialty. I love this book so much because it is up to date. It has really helped me to make my notes and to impart knowledge onto the students.
The books have given us a positive change.
They have opened the way for research. Now, if the students were to do research on a topic or any tropical disease, any operation or nursing care, then they can go in there [to the library] and study.
Since we have started using these books, our results have really improved. Two years ago, some of our students did not achieve the minimum overall pass mark.
But the group last year, because of the existence of this library and the Book Aid International books all 92 students passed their state final examinations.
And I am also hoping that come this November, the next group of students will also pass with flying colours.
We are living in one the poorest [districts] in the country. There are many people living in the rural areas who have problems with disease, more than people who are living in urban areas. Yet urban areas are served with so many doctors and nurses whereas rural areas have few. Like in this hospital, we only have one doctor who works around the clock.
So the only way to help us is books.
Without books, you cannot learn. And if you don’t learn, you cannot help your community.
These books aren’t only for tutors and students, they are for everybody. The healthcare workers in the hospital that this school is attached to are using them too. Even the people who are training in Freetown, we tell them we have lots of books. So if they don’t have books, about particular surgery, they will come here and it will be an immense help for them.
In the future, we are planning to run the higher course of state registered nursing and midwifery here. The books are one of the things that will allow us to do this – staff and students having access to a range of up-to-date information is one of the criteria that we have to meet to run a higher course.
We are very very thankful to Practical Tools Initiative for opening this link between us and Book Aid International so that more books will be brought to us, and hopefully we are going to do the higher course shortly.
We would like to thank our partner Practical Tools Initiative who ensure the books you help to send reach the healthcare professionals, hospitals and medical training institutions that need them most.