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Sierra Leone: Returning to visit the fruits of free health care

Arriving at Lunghi airport, Freetown was different last night, less officious and a younger more diverse crowd of Sierra Leoneans, embassy staff, mining workers and gap year students.

It felt good to be here.

I was last here in April 2010 when free healthcare for under 5’s was just about to be introduced.

The national mood was one of excitement and disbelief… it was like a mini dawning of the NHS. And a change that Save the Children is widely credited with helping to bring about.

Where the war started

I’m here with one of our largest and longest standing donors to see the difference their work has made under the free healthcare regime.

We’re on an 8 hour drive across the country to Kailahun which borders Guinea. Kailahun is the place where the war started and ended in Sierra Leone, so it bears the scars more than most. And like much of the country all of it’s schools and clinics were totally destroyed.

Covering 200,000 children

We’ve been busy re-furnishing clincs in the area – some 35 have been completed with another 37 to go. Alongside training of hundreds of community healthworkers.

The latest phase of this extraordinary project will achieve district wide coverage of basic healthcare for children under 5, in numbers that is 200,000 children.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the results for myself  – just a few more hours ahead on the road. And hoping the rains stay off until nightfall.

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