May 11, 2016

Sierra Leone is one of many countries that suffered from the world’s largest and deadliest known outbreak of the Ebola virus – the highly contagious disease that kills about 50 percent of those infected and has no known cure. The Ebola virus claimed 3,955 lives in Sierra Leone.

Project HOPE's Dr. Kenyon visits Sierra Leone

Since the outbreak, Project HOPE has coordinated donations of medicines and medical supplies, including working with World Hope International coordinating the shipment of four donated "Clinic in a Can," portable medical units that can fit into shipping containers and have their own solar power systems, making them suitable for developing countries.

However, as advances have been made on the Ebola front, other crises have re-emerged.

“Prior to the Ebola epidemic, Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world, had been making progress in reducing maternal and newborn mortality by providing free access to maternal health services,” says Kristina Gryboski, Senior Program Officer of Women's and Children's Health, Global Health. “While the Ebola epidemic is over, the toll it has taken on the health system has been devastating. The severe shortage of health workers and lack of adequate health care supplies and infrastructure has critically limited the access of women to maternal health services. Maternal and newborn mortality remains among the highest in the world in Sierra Leone.”

Responding to this crisis, Project HOPE has assembled a team of four health professional volunteers who will conduct a rapid assessment of maternal and newborn health care in several health facilities in Sierra Leone, while also providing training and clinical mentoring on newborn care. The purpose of the assessment is to provide the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone an analysis of the maternal and newborn care situation in these facilities and provide recommendations for strengthening the health system.

The team consists of the following volunteers:

  • Seasoned HOPE volunteer, Walt Vernon, PE, LEED AP, EDAC, is Principal and CEO of Mazzetti and is an expert in the research and design of health care facilities. He arrived in Sierra Leone in March to assess the infrastructure of existing health facilities. Vernon has nearly 30 years of experience in the research, planning and design of health care facilities. In recent years he has branched out into the developing world, including work in Haiti, Liberia and South Africa helping to upgrade or rebuild facilities to ensure better health care in these regions.

  • Returning HOPE volunteer, J. Beryl Brooks, RN, has been a neonatal nurse and educator for nearly 30 years. She is currently the Developmental Clinic Coordinator for Improved Pregnancy Outcome at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah.

  • A first-time HOPE volunteer, Dr. George Little is Associate Editor of Helping Babies Breathe®. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is Active Emeritus Professor Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

  • First-time HOPE volunteer, Dr. Jacqueline Gyapomaa Asibey, is a Senior Specialist for the Department of Child Health at the Holy Family Hospital in Techiman, Ghana and part-time Lecturer, Department of Paediatrics, School of Medical Science, at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana.

Volunteers from Project HOPE visit Sierra Leone

The Project HOPE team assessment will take place at the Ola During Children’s Hospital in Freetown, and at the Bo District Hospital (first referral hospital Maternity Ward) as well as community-level clinics in Bo.

*Project HOPE was among a handful of international humanitarian organizations recognized by President Ernest Koromo of Sierra Leone at a special Ebola award ceremony in 2015.

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