IOM partners with Diaspora Medical Doctors to bring free medical services to rural areas amidst COVID19
Freetown – On November 2021, in collaboration with the Afro-European Medical and Research Network (AEMRN), IOM supported a medical mission of Sierra Leoneans from the diaspora to provide access to health care services in Karene district, Northern Sierra Leone.
The mission team, made of surgeons, an obstetrician -gynecologist, a midwife, a laboratory expert, a dentist, a specialist in internal medicine and a dermatologist brought free medical services to Weyslan Hospital in Kamakwei, as well as mobile clinics to several remote villages thus reaching the most vulnerable in the “last mile”. Karene district is one of the new 16 districts of Sierra Leone. Medical facilities in some neighborhoods are still hard to reach, often lacking health personnel and medical supplies. People in the communities were travelling kilometers to access health care services.
More than 1,000 people, among them women and children, in Kamakwei and its environs benefited from the free medical services and consultations of the diaspora medics which not only brought access to healthcare but also contributed in the long term to building capacities of local medical personnel through on-job coaching and mentoring. “Despite challenges of the ongoing pandemic, AEMRN members still conduct mobile clinics. We believe in the concept of universal health coverage. We believe that no one should be left behind. And our mission is to reach out to areas that are under served”, said Dr Charles Senessie, Team Lead of the Medical Mission and Founder of AEMRN based in Switzerland. He added that the knowledge sharing and exchange of skills to young local doctors and medical practitioners is one of the social legacies that they are leaving behind.
The Medical Superintendent at the Kamakwei Government Hospital, Dr Faso Moyin Oluwasei Oluwayomi said: “there are so many people in these environments who are very poor and accessing medical facilities is very challenging. So, this was a great opportunity to benefit from the expertise of medical doctors and other practitioners”. “I had serious dental issues. So, when I heard that diaspora medical specialists will come to Kamakwei, I was very happy to register for the free health care They successfully extracted two of my teeth”. Maria Sole Dall’Oro, Project Coordinator at IOM Sierra Leone reminds that “IOM has a strong and long-lasting engagement with the diaspora all over the world and it will continue to support it as it represents human, social, cultural and economic capital that must be preserved and enhanced”.
Diaspora engagement is important for Sierra Leone’s national development, especially to address critical gaps in the health sector. “Obviously our health delivery system is not exactly where we want it, but effort like this definitely will go a long way in changing the narrative and helping out to address the many challenges that we are confronting in our health system”, said Mamadi Gobeh Kamara, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and International Cooperation.
The medical mission was organized by the International organization for migration (IOM) in collaboration with the Afro- European Medical and Research Network, Imres, the Government of Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association. The mission was made possible thanks to the support of the Government of Japan.
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