Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Training Children's Doctors

As you know, one of the biggest challenges for child health care in Sierra Leone is a lack of specialist children’s doctors. There is only one Paediatrician in government service in a country of 6.5 million people, where more than 1 child in 7 dies before their 5th birthday. Meanwhile, there is a new generation of keen young Sierra Leonean doctors who have had no opportunity to formally train to be Paediatricians.

On this front, 2010 has been a very exciting year. Firstly, in January 2010, we brought in Professor Tamra Abiodun, an inspirational children’s doctor from Nigeria. She soon had regular tutorials and clinical teaching in place, and our trainee doctors were finding out that training to be a specialist isn’t easy! Secondly, we are working closely with respected colleagues at the Ministry of Health to help implement both Diploma and Masters programmes in Paediatrics for young doctors.

By October 2010, two of our young doctors were ready to take their first exams under the West African College of Physicians. These exams are rightly feared amongst young doctors in the region, but both of our candidates passed on their first try. Congratulations to Dr Ishmael Turay and Dr Freddie Coker! And good luck to the rest of the group who are taking the same exams in April, under the Lady Vanneck Fellowship.

Training under the West African College of Physicians offers us the opportunity to produce international-standard children’s doctors over the next few years, with Prof Tamra leading the way and other sub-specialists coming in for several months at a time. But there is still much to be done for us to realize this dream.

First, we need to have the hospital officially “accredited” by the West African College of Physicians, which requires further upgrading of various departments and processes. This is our biggest, most exciting challenge for the New Year, with the prospect of several new Paediatricians trained in Sierra Leone by the end of 2012. This project has been generously supported by the Theresa Sackler Foundation and many others, but we do need additional funds to make this dream happen. Please give generously!

Please make a donation on our website! Your support can be a huge help to sick kids in Sierra Leone.

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