Lone Brink Rasmussen is completing her Masters in Global Health at the University of Copenhagen and is writing her thesis on health system strengthening methods in collaboration with CapaCare. Back in 2013 she was a volunteer for the Massanga hospital rehabilitation project and spent six moths as the health education project coordinator at the newly founded Tonkolili College of Health Sciences and Technology. Lone just returned from gathering data for her thesis and this is her contribution to our blog:
In February 2016 I went for a five week trip to Sierra Leone in collaboration with CapaCare to do research on the acceptance of STP graduates at the district hospitals in Sierra Leone.
During my five week stay in Sierra Leone I visited different hospitals and especially the northern region. At each hospital I had the pleasure of following the STP graduate around for several days seeing them in action providing surgical care, collaborating with hospital colleagues and learning about the role that they are gaining at the hospitals. This cadre has proven to be a welcomed and indispensable resource for the hospitals, especially in the more underserved areas, with complimenting words from doctors, expats and staff for their skills, performances and accomplishments so far. To quote the District Medical Officer in Kabala «if you have a big structure, they are the pillar holding it all together». And though The STP graduates still await governmental acknowledgement and circumstances often force them to operate under suboptimal conditions with limited skilled surgical staff and shortcomings in equipment, it has truly been fascinating to follow this group of graduates and their dedication to provide surgical care for all. No doubt many more will be needed in order to close the current gap in access to surgical care across the country, however it has been great to experience the value and early success of the Surgical Training Program and its graduates. With the amount of high-spirited motivated STP students presently in Masanga and around the partner hospitals, I’m confident we can expect to hear much more about CapaCare, the Surgical Training Program and its impact in the years to come.
Thank you to CapaCare, STP graduates and students, Masanga and Sierra Leone for a reunion beyond expectations. I hope to return within the near future to see more of what this surgical training program may give to district hospitals and their populations.