The 'Sustainable Workforce' project is started together with the Een Helping Hand Foundation. The project includes training of the staff of the hospital, training of the teachers of the school in Yele and the construction of a 'Science' classroom. In this way we will strengthen the quality and infrastructure of education in Yele for the benefit of the students of the school and the staff of our hospital. In the long term, we can thus provide well-trained local employees. The project has recently been approved by Wild Geese, as a result of which the financing of this project has already been partly realized. A Helping Hand Foundation has promised to take responsibility for one third of the budget and for the remaining amount, Lion Heart Foundation has submitted applications to a number of equity funds.
Reduction of infant mortality
The maternal / child mortality within Sierra Leone is among the highest in the world. To reduce child mortality, we have started a three-year project that complements the “Healthy Baby Voucher Program” project, which is in its second year. Central to the project 'Reduction of Child Mortality' is the training of care providers of 'Primary Healthcare Units' in the region. These are small, local government health posts, in remote areas, and are intended to provide the most basic care (only a nurse is available for several). Where necessary, they refer to our hospital. The project aims to improve the ability of Primary Healthcare Units to recognize the medical condition of a child and to urge parents to quickly register with the hospital if necessary. In cooperation with the health care posts, the parents will also be actively informed about the prevention and recognition of malaria, among other things. The long-term duration of the project enables the 'Primary Healthcare Units' and the parents to improve their knowledge and to measure significant results in the reduction of infant mortality. Such figures can be an important means to encourage the government to adopt this demonstrably effective approach and to roll it out further. We currently have requests for financial support for the project from various asset funds. The Foundation for the Representation of the (very) Young Child supports this project financially.
Healthy Baby Voucher Program
The Lion Heart Medical Center started the 'Healthy Baby Voucher Program' in March 2018. The aim of this much needed program is to remove all financial and logistical barriers for pregnant or childbearing women with complications and to improve cooperation with the local government. The focus of the Lion Heart Medical Center is maternal and child care as there are still unacceptably high death rates in Sierra Leone due to poor health care organization and limited knowledge of the local population. The mortality of children between 0 and 5 years is 20 percent. Maternal mortality is estimated at 1 in 100 live births.
Thanks to the Healthy Baby Voucher Program, the surrounding PHUs (Primary Health Units) can refer the complicated deliveries that they cannot perform to the Lion Heart Medical Center. The entire admission and treatment is free of charge for the mother-to-be, as is the contraception that is offered and the transport to and from the hospital.
In addition to the vouchers for complicated births, the health posts have received echo vouchers to hand out to pregnant women. This allows the women to have an ultrasound and blood test done in the hospital at least once in their pregnancy. An ultrasound helps to detect complications in time, for example the wrong location of the child, or risky location of the placenta.
Blood tests are important to reduce the possible transmission of diseases such as HIV to the unborn child. An important part of the program is offering contraception, which ensures that women are less likely to become pregnant again and have fewer children in total. In the short term, this has the effect of preventing risky pregnancies; like a forty year old woman who gives birth to her tenth child. In the long term, more children can go to school and malnutrition is less common.
During the Healthy Baby Voucher Program the staff members of the LHMC and the surrounding PHUs are trained and supported so that complications are noticed in time and patients can be referred and treated quickly.
The program has been received with great enthusiasm by the surrounding PHUs as it is now easier to refer women urgently and there are no longer any barriers to transport and admission costs. The PHUs will of course continue to provide care for uncomplicated deliveries, so that the knowledge and skills are not lost. With this program, care in the Tonkolili and Valunia chiefdom for pregnant women and their babies has been significantly improved and we succeed in reducing maternal mortality.
Malnutrition program and community garden
Malnutrition is a major problem in Sierra Leone; 37,9% of children under five are too small for their age. The hospital provides care for malnourished children with complications. These children are often admitted for a long time and isolated from the other children because they are susceptible to infections. They are treated with specially developed milk formulas and 'plumpynuts'. In addition to this treatment, there is also a lot of caretaker education to prevent malnutrition in the future. A garden has now been laid behind the hospital. With the idea of being able to offer caretakers practical education to learn how they can grow healthy food themselves.
Hospital kitchen project
In the LHMC, as in every other hospital in Sierra Leone, there is not enough nursing staff to wash, dress and feed the patients in addition to medical care. For this reason, a condition for hospitalization is that each patient brings a 'caretaker' who can provide the above-mentioned care in the hospital. Before the hospital kitchen project was started, there was hardly any opportunity to obtain food for the patients and their caretakers. There are no restaurants or small eateries in Yele where freshly prepared food can be bought every day, people would already have money for this. Most patients come from surrounding villages and since there is also no cooking facilities where the caretakers can cook themselves, the lack of food was also often a reason to leave the hospital early against medical advice. When the means came, we were able to set up a kitchen and the salaries of the cooks are at least covered for the first year.
Since March 2018 we have been able to offer patients and their caretakers hot meals at cost price. The employees of the hospital and the community around the hospital are also happy to buy the food that is prepared in the hospital kitchen. They pay slightly more than the patients and their caretakers. Mariama and Selamatu, our cooks, are also very happy with their jobs and are happy to get up early in the morning to cook for everyone. In order to be able to continue with this kitchen project and to be able to provide our patients with a hot meal at least once a day for an affordable price (€ 0,20 per plate), we, and especially the patients who do not oppose medical advice having to go home earlier, thankful for every amount donated.
Radio program 'Well Body Talk'
In Sierra Leone, people listen to the radio a lot. The hospital has its own radio program every Saturday night at 20 "Well Body Talk" (how we can keep our body healthy). Every week two employees from the hospital, at least one Temne and one Mende speaker, go to the radio to highlight a health topic. The radio DJ then also translates it into the Krio. People can call to ask live questions in the broadcast and this is often done.
Not only the medically trained staff prepare these evenings, the cleaners, for example, also like to talk about how diseases can be prevented and how important good hygiene is.