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Sierra Leone: Seeing the difference health workers make

Our first health centre was at Baiima, it is one of 35 where we have trained staff and community volunteers and completely refurbished and re-equipped the health centre.

The chief proudly told me that ‘our future leaders are being born here’.

Despite reports of drugs getting stuck at ports and there were many of the drugs you would expect to be available from asthma treatment to antibiotics – as a mother of a 5 year-old, I reflected that I had used them all at some point.

The health worker effect

We moved on to Levuma and encountered two beautiful and healthy newborns with their mums – safely delivered just hours ago.

This is a real turnaround from 18 months ago as previously these women had no-where to go and no skilled help on hand.

But whilst Levuma gave me a real sense that women and children have much better life chances it also reminded me there is still so much to be done.

A mother who was chatting with us at a community meeting proudly handed me her 5 month old sleeping son, her delightful baby Abou.

Saving a child

But within a few minutes I realised this child was really sick – his breathing was too rapid and he was in a stupor.

I asked the Save the Children midwife who was travelling with us to examine him, she instantly diagnosed him with pneumonia.

His mother was oblivious which is shocking and sad but with the low levels of educated women we probably shouldn’t be surprised.

Thanks to the Save the Children midwife, little baby Abou escaped one of the biggest child killers,  right there and then in this remote outpost she had almost certainly saved his life.

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