Sierra Leone is a low-income country with a high burden of disease, high prevalence of injuries, and low surgical capacity. In addition, frequent power outages and a shortage of ventilators significantly increases the risks and complications of surgery.
In hospitals that can do surgeries, anesthesia machines, which are in critical shortage in Sierra Leone, are essential for delivering safe and effective anesthesia during surgical procedures. There are also
Healey International Relief Foundation (HealeyIR), a non-profit humanitarian organization based in Sierra Leone, and it’s partner Caritas recognized this critical gap and need for lifesaving anesthesia machines and responded to address it by reaching out to USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (USAID/ASHA) program.
Based in Washington, D.C., USAID/ASHA provides assistance to overseas schools, libraries, and hospital centers to highlight American ideas and practices, to provide concrete illustrations of the generosity of the American people, to further U.S. Government public diplomacy, and to catalyze collaboration between U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries.
In November 2022, ASHA issued a grant to HealeyIR and Caritas, allowing them to purchase eight Gradian Universal Anesthesia Machines (UAM) worth $50,000 each, ventilators, and patient monitors to be donated to health facilities across the country to improve healthcare and save lives. The Gradian UAM is an innovative anesthesia machine designed to continue working even without electricity and without medical oxygen.
The hospitals receiving the donation were chosen according to two main criteria: they are in dire need of appropriate surgical equipment, and they serve low-income populations in high need of safe and affordable healthcare services.
Christ the King Hospital which serves the Waterloo community, Kissi Town, Western Area Rural District received two UAMs. According to Ishmeal Alfred Charles, In-country Manager of HealeyIR), “this hospital sees 1,500 patients monthly including approximately 20 surgeries, but with the new UAMs, the monthly attendance is expected to increase, and the number of surgeries is anticipated to increase to approximately 600 -700 annually”.
Four other hospitals receiving the UAMs across the country include Holy Spirit Hospital in the Makeni District, St. John of God Lunsar also in the Northern Province, Catholic Hospital Panguma in the Southern region, and Wesleyan Hospital in the North-West region of Sierra Leone.
Given that there is a shortage of qualified anesthesiologists across the country, the Healey International Relief Foundation will train anesthesiologists in the hospitals that received the UAMs on the machine’s various functions which include temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure monitoring, amongst other features.