By Yasmine Vaughan, HCW Mission Project Specialist
Apparently, hospital beds are not Prime two-day shipping eligible.
One of the biggest obstacles to getting medical supplies to Sierra Leone is the shipping cost, especially for larger items that cannot be carried by mission teams. When HCW Board member Rick Peterson approached HCW and said he would cover the cost of shipping for hospital beds being donated to us by Project CURE, we jumped at the chance. Project CURE will be sending 100 emergency relief hospital beds to Sierra Leone, to replace some of the older or broken beds at Mercy Hospital.
These beds are an incredible blessing to Mercy, but have also allowed us to be a blessing to others as well. In March of 2021, HCW formed the Rising Tides Global Public Health Coalition for organizations and individuals that share a calling to provide healthcare to vulnerable people around the world. Our goal is to share resources and best practices, and discuss shared obstacles.
In our second meeting, we discussed the challenges we each had with getting supplies abroad, and Brent Phillips, CEO of Cherish Uganda hospital, told us how his organization spent almost $100,000 in shipping, customs, and other fees to get a container of supplies to his hospital in Entebbe, Uganda.
When it became apparent that Mercy Hospital would only need 30 beds, we reached out to our partners in Sierra Leone and offered to let them have the extra beds. These hospital beds will not only go to Mercy Hospital, but will be placed in Kissy United Methodist Hospital in Freetown, the Sierra Leone Mission School Clinic in Freetown, Mission of Hope Rotifunk Hospital in Rotifunk, and the Rural Health Care Initiative's birth-waiting home in Bo. We are grateful to share this blessing with our partners, which has strengthened the relationships in the coalition and reminded us of one of the values we have at HCW: radical collaboration.
We are really excited to place these beds in Mercy Hospital, and thankful that the beds being shared with the other clinics will be "helping children worldwide"!
Hassanatu, aged 9, was rushed to Mercy Hospital early in the morning with generalized pain and high fever. The child was screened and assessed, revealing that she was suffering from sickle cell disease (SCD), a genetic condition that can be fatal if left untreated.
Dr. Aruna Stevens placed Hassanatu on appropriate drug treatment, and her condition quickly improved. Her mother received important information about diet and environment, with an emphasis on sleeping with a bed net, as malaria had worsened her condition. Hassanatu had been missing school, and was grateful that she would be able to return.
Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder worldwide, with the highest prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease may be significantly underdiagnosed, due to a lack of health resources and access in places like Sierra Leone. In sub-Saharan Africa, 50–90% of children with SCD die before their fifth birthday, while in countries with established newborn screening and treatment programs, over 90% of affected children survive well into adulthood (Oxford Medical case reports.)
HCW launched the Global Public Health Coalition on March 23 with a meeting that included representation from the US, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. Organizations that participated included Mission of Hope: Rotifunk, Rural Health Care Initiative, Providence Health, the Medical University of South Carolina, and Mercy Hospital.
"We shared what is going well in our respective programs, and the challenges we are facing, as well as the needs we have. We've agreed to meet monthly, to try to bring others into the coalition, and to develop a mission and vision for the group at our next meeting," HCW Director of Program Development and Community Engagement Laura Horvath explained. If you are interested in joining the Global Public Health Coalition, contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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