25. January 2023 Project reports, Sierra Leone

Outreach as pediatrician for Cap Anamur in Sierra Leone

Friederike Scheu spent six months working for Cap Anamur in Sierra Leone. As a pediatrician, she has worked at the largest children's hospital in the country. During her assignment, she gained a lot of experience. Among other things, that the work in Sierra Leone is very different from that in Germany.

Friederike Scheu, bei ihrem Einsatz im Kinderkrankenhaus ‚Ola During Childrens Hospital‘, Sierra Leone
Diagnoses are made with the simplest of means

“The work in the intensive care unit at Ola During Childrens Hospital cannot be compared with that in Germany,” Friederike Scheu reports on her assignment. In Germany, she has monitors to monitor sick children or ventilators. In Sierra Leone, she had to learn to make diagnoses with the simplest of tools, as there are hardly any diagnostic options available.

With her own hands and a stethoscope, the young doctor examined the children. This is because laboratory findings are far too time-consuming and expensive to perform. “I have learned to treat the children in the best possible way with the few options available,” she says, describing her experience.

Completely overcrowded children’s hospital is commonplace

Since Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, many people simply cannot afford to go to the hospital. In addition, there are hardly any medical facilities in rural regions. Therefore, parents with sick children usually only visit when the children’s health condition is very bad.

The long journey often further aggravates the children’s state of health. The intensive care unit of the children’s hospital is therefore often completely overcrowded.

Despite all these circumstances, Friederike enjoyed working in the intensive care unit. “The atmosphere on the ward is mostly good despite the unbelievable heat, completely overcrowded rooms without privacy and, unfortunately, very sick children again and again, so working there is fun anyway. The joy of life and the positive thinking of the Sierra Leoneans also contribute to this.

Nevertheless, beautiful moments remain in her memory

The young doctor especially remembers the moments when a seriously ill child survived. “I have fond memories of fellow patients, mothers and nurses clapping and dancing together in the ward when a seriously ill child survived and was able to go home after a long hospital stay.

As well as little Abubakar, he was very sick and for a long time we did not think he would survive. But after a long period of treatment, he was able to leave the hospital in good health.”

The health care system in Sierra Leonie has been inadequate for decades

The health care system in Sierra Leone has been severely damaged by the 11-year civil war that lasted from 1999 to 2002. Much of the health care is provided by non-governmental organizations. Since the country has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world, Cap Anamur decided in 2003 to help rebuild the health care system. Since then we have been supporting the operation of the children’s hospital ‘Ola During Childrens Hospital’.

Cap Anamur supports the largest children’s hospital in Sierra Leone

We organize and finance the delivery of medicines and medical equipment, as well as the construction and repair of buildings and the hospital’s infrastructure. We regularly send medical personnel, such as Dr. Friedericke Scheu, to treat patients. In addition, the medical professionals also provide further training for local staff and optimize administrative processes on the wards and in management.

Beautiful experiences despite bad conditions

Friederike Scheu reports on her time at the children’s hospital in a detailed newspaper report and in our employee portrait.