The medical study curriculum at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology includes the completion of a student thesis during the 5th study year. Individually or in cooperation, the medical students are to complete a small scientific study under the supervision of a tutor. The thesis is presented in a booklet and in some cases published in national or international medical journals. The cooperation between NTNU and CapaCare has made it possible for medical students and students of Global Health to conduct field research in Sierra Leone. 5th year medical students Eirik Bakke and Eirik Øseth just returned from a 6 week long stay where they mapped the prevalence of vacuum-assisted deliveries at public hospitals in the country. Vacuum extraction involves the use of a vacuum devise as a traction instrument to assist the delivery. The method is indicated when fetal stress occurs and laboring mothers are exhausted. The use of a vacuum extractor is widely considered easier and safer than the use of forceps.
Eirik Øseth in the Masanga Operating Theater along with Medical Director Tom Gresnigt and Dr. Daniel Van Leerdam
Based in Masanga and assisted by CapaCare SACHOs Ibrahim M. Sesay and Tairu Fofanah, the two medical students have visited 11 public hospitals throughout Sierra Leone. Using the delivery books and theater logs provided by the hospitals they have mapped the prevalence vacuum-assisted deliveries in the past 12 months and by interviewing midwifes, CHOs and Medical Doctors they have also tried to identify barriers to its use. The two students have till January to complete their study and they also hope to produce an article for publication.
Eirik Bakke on Kabala Mountain in Koinadugu Dristrict
Eirik and Eirik used a lot of their time on the road gathering research, but where also able to spend time at the hospital in Masanga and observe the daily activities there. Their visit coincided with the national CHO-strike, a periode which resulted in a higher workload and strain on the international doctors present. During their 6 weeks and extensive travel they were able to visit different parts of Sierra Leone and there were also time for leisure activities. In Masanga they joined when the hospital staff faced the local “okada” drivers(motorbike taxis) on the football field and in Koinadugu District they hiked the Kabala mountain. The highlight for the two students was a visit to the old trading centre Bonthe, on the remote Sherbro Island, where CapaCare SACHO David S. Kain has returned to his home community to practise. We thank Øseth and Bakke for their efforts and wish them the best of luck with the thesis and the rest of their medical studies. CapaCare hopes that other students will take advantage of this opportunity and that their research can be helpful for the strengthening of the health system in Sierra Leone.