Based on figures by the Lancet Commission on global surgery, under a best case scenario of equal distribution there are only around three female surgeons for every one million people in low-income countries. Enrollment of women in medical schools in low and middle income countries has traditionally been low. This disproportionately affects the number of women going into all specialties, let alone surgery. For CapaCare in Sierra Leone it has also been a struggle to recruit female candidates to our surgical training program. The once who have enrolled however have preformed very well.
Seibatu Sia Kemoh is currently back at Masanga, honing her surgical skills and preparing for her final exams in March next year. The 29 year old from Moyamba district will most likely be the first female to complete our program and is already looking forward to her first government posting as a graduate.
STP-student Seibatu Sia Kemoh and CapaCare´s Martelien Grootjans at Masanga Hospital
Augusta Fasia Palmer enrolled in the program in april 2015 and is currently posted at St. John of God Catholic Hospital in Lunsar. She has not regretted going into the field of surgery, but understands that many would be discouraged by though rotations, childcaring responsibilities and unsupportive work policies. Augusta, a mother of two, says is hard to be away from her family in long periodes of time, but that she is motivated by the love of her fellow Sierra Leoneans and she wants to play her part in strengthening their access to health care. Augusta lost her father during the war and her brother to a treatable surgical conditions, this also greatly influenced her carrier choices.
Augusta Fasia Palmer at her current posting in St. Johns of God Hospital in Lunsar
The female STP-candidates enrolled in our program have proven hardworking and purpose-driven. If we are to significantly increase the surgical capacity in Sierra Leone and elsewhere, we also need to recruit from the 50% that so far has been neglected and underrepresented in the surgical workforce. We hope that our future graduates will be role models and mentors for the next generation and hope that the women of Sierra Leone will step up to the challenge.