3 million people died since the Omicron variant emerged, shattering perceptions that the pandemic is over.
After 18 years, EMERGENCY’s work at the Paediatric Centre in Goderich is drawing to an end.
On 29 February 2020, EMERGENCY will end its paediatric work at the centre. Opened in 2002 to provide free treatment of high quality to children under 14, the Paediatric Centre in Goderich has done just that for 100 patients every day in the intervening years.
The recent decision follows an agreement with the national Ministry of Health and the opening of three new government facilities – Lumley Government Hospital, Rokupa Hospital, and Kingharman Maternal and Child Hospital – all of which lie just a few miles from our centre and provide treatment for mothers and babies.
The World Health Organization’s data state that the infant mortality rate in Sierra Leone is still one of the highest in the world. Of every 1,000 babies born alive, 120 die before their fifth birthday. Malaria, malnutrition, and respiratory and gastrointestinal infections are among the main causes of death for these infants. Children under five may have the right to free healthcare in the country, but few of them can actually get treatment.
This is why EMERGENCY stepped up its work in the country in 2002, building a Paediatric Centre to provide free healthcare to children under 14, next door to its existing Surgical Centre in Goderich, which remains the primary referral hospital for the whole country. Since 2002, EMERGENCY has provided free treatment of high quality to more than 380,000 child patients.
EMERGENCY’s hospital in Goderich will go on treating patients in need of emergency surgery or traumatology. The local authorities have acknowledged and stressed the importance of EMERGENCY’s Surgical Centre in Goderich to Sierra Leone. It is, after all, the only free surgical hospital in the country and has performed over 50,000 operations since it opened, becoming the national referral centre for orthopaedics and traumatology in the process.
The Sierra Leonean Ministry of Health is also committed to assembling working groups to transfer surgery patients more efficiently, both to EMERGENCY’s Surgical Centre and Connaught Hospital, the main government referral hospital for adults. The aim is to develop an efficient, working referral centre for surgery patients and divide labour well between the two centres, to make the most of each.
The soda programme and the regional cardiac surgery programme also continue to operate. The former treats children who have swallowed lye, a common medical issue in the country due to the practice of soap being made at home. In the second, EMERGENCY performs cardiological screening for Sierra Leonean patients to see it they need referral for operations at our Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan.
Through all this work, EMERGENCY affirms its commitment to working with the Sierra Leonean government to strengthen the results they have already achieved and improve the country’s health system.