From 2016 to date, SLI has been facilitating surgical missions during which we provide free surgeries and sustainable medical programs in Sierra Leone.
With donor and partner support, we have been able to reach underserved Communities to provide surgical care they can't access or afford. These surgeries also enhance our commitment to sustainability through knowledge transfer.
Our surgical mission program is the main vessel through which we supplement the surgical healthcare system in Sierra Leone. Twice a year the organization facilitates surgical mission trips to Government operated hospitals throughout Sierra Leone. These trips are to provide much needed and invaluable medical and surgical services at no cost to underserved individuals who do not have access or the financial capacity to meet the obligations in accessing quality surgical care.
During the surgical missions, medical professionals are paired and encouraged to collaborate with resident medical staff to facilitate knowledge transfer. Also, classroom-based instruction training is conducted. The emphasis is on ensuring continued quality care after visiting missions end.
“We live our core values by providing free life-changing surgical care with respect for human dignity”.
Since our first mission in April of 2016 and to date, our volunteer teams in collaboration with local surgical teams, have performed over 1,000 surgeries and provided primary care to 1500 patients ranging in age from 2 months to 70 years. The surgical procedures vary in complexity and are designed to include cases of medical conditions that are prevalent and have a high educational/technical value. The surgical procedures include but are not limited to exploratory laparotomy, hernia repairs, hydrocelectomies, closed and open reduction internal fixations and subtotal thyroidectomies. In addition, several complex bone reconstructive surgeries and repairs have been performed. About 70% of the surgical cases are general surgery cases, with the rest being orthopedic in nature.
Our most recent surgical mission was facilitated in January 2023 at the Bo Government Hospital and the Mercy Hospital in Bo District, and the Kabala Government Hospital in Koinadugu District during which 205 surgical procedures were conducted on 192 individuals.
Knowledge Transfer is the cornerstone of the organization, and the surgical missions are the vessels through which our organization fulfills this critical component. Counterpart pairing is the way the organization ensures collaboration and the transfer of knowledge between our volunteers and the local medical professionals. We believe that a high-capacity medical staff will ensure sustainability for the medium to long term, as a qualified local staff will continue to provide quality healthcare services long after our episodic missions have ended.
“We collaborate by educating and empowering healthcare workers with evidence-based surgical and anesthesia practices that strengthen surgical capacity”.
The focus on knowledge transfer is simply because the inadequacies of the healthcare sector in Sierra Leone could not be fixed with episodic surgical missions alone and as a result, SLI has developed and is implementing training and capacity development programs the local medical professionals through classroom and patient bedside training sessions.
• Realtime Surgical Training
The bedside training sessions are based on informal counterpart exchanges between the volunteers and the Sierra Leonean medical professionals. The formal classroom training sessions are facilitated routinely and based on a as need basis.
It is vital that training is the focus of our services primarily because it ensures sustainability and a continued quality healthcare delivery system long after the surgical missions have left and in addition SLI maintains a very high standard in financial accountability and transparency.
• Anesthesia Training
Formal classroom training sessions are conducted during every mission. Training has been continually conducted in patient safety and pain management. During these sessions, introduction of state-of-the-art anesthesia techniques in administering anesthetics, pain management and pre- and post-operative care are made. Also, classroom training sessions are ongoing for training in First Aid and BLS/ACLS critical care techniques in which participants trained by American Heart Association certified trainers. A training the trainer model is presently being implemented to ensure year-round access to training for our various training programs. In November 2021, our organization facilitated our first Anesthesia Conference in Sierra Leone with the focus on Patient Safety and Pain Management. The conference benefited 140 anesthetic professionals from around the country.
• Medical Exchange
Our commitment to capacity building, has seen our medical exchange program established in 2018 presented the opportunity to three medical professionals from Sierra Leone to shadow surgical and medical professional from our partner medical hospitals in New Jersey and Maryland for a month.
Equipment and Medication Donation Program
Besides providing surgical care and providing education and training, Saving Lives Initiatives routinely donates medical equipment to partner medical facilities in Sierra Leone. For each piece of equipment donated, Saving Lives Initiatives provides the necessary technical assistance (clinical engineering support) to train local hospital staff to operate and maintain the equipment. To ensure donated materials and equipment are sustainable, Saving Lives Initiatives provides technical assistance to manage the installation, maintenance, and repairs, and the relevant training of local technicians.
Feel inspired to make a difference? Join our mission today and get in touch with us to learn more about how you can contribute to transforming lives and healthcare in Sierra Leone.