As you will recall the main reason for starting this project was the high infant and child mortality rate in Sierra Leone.
In 2005 158 out of 1000 babies died before their first birthday and 276 died before they reached the age of 5 in Sierra Leone. This compared with only 5 per thousand in Australia for infants less than one year. In 2012 UNICEF recorded that the infant mortality rate had dropped to 117 per 1000 and under 5s to 185 per thousand. This is a big improvement and the Bo Children’s Hospital is playing an important role.
In its first year (April 2012 -2013) some 2000 patients were seen and only 1 death was reported. The second year has seen a steady flow of patients attending the outpatient clinic and the 11-bed ward being fully utilised for admissions. The staff at the Hospital are all Sierra Leoneans and have proved to be deeply committed to their work. Three nurses have enrolled in the online International Postgraduate Paediatric Certificate (IPPC) at the University of Sydney. I congratulate Medical Superintendent, Dr Vandi Sombie and Paediatric Consultant Dr Muctar Jalloh for their leadership and dedication.
The newly formed Bo Children’s Hospital Board in Bo would like to see an increase in the number of beds for admissions, erect a security fence around the hospital site and obtain a reliable vehicle for transporting patients. There is also a need to maintain and expand the feeding programme initiated last year to help reduce the impact of malnutrition which is a serious threat to children’s health in Sierra Leone. I hope the visit by volunteers from the UK and Australia later this year will be beneficial and further contribute to the services offered already.
There are many challenges in providing health services in Sierra Leone and I want to thank you our donors and volunteer helpers for your strong continuing support of the hospital. With you behind us we can carry on the good work and contribute even more to the health of the children of Sierra Leone.