The Mercy outreach team identified a toddler with inguinal hernia. Little Saidu was transported to Mercy Hospital where surgery was successfully performed by the Lawrence Kargbo, surgical health officer, to correct the condition. Saidu recovered nicely under the care of Mercy staff and was released to his grateful mother.
About 3-5% of healthy, full-term babies may be born with an inguinal hernia and one third of infancy and childhood hernias appear in the first 6 months of life. In premature infants, the incidence of inguinal hernia is substantially increased, up to 30%. Children in Sierra Leone and other parts of the developing world may be more prone to conditions like inguinal hernia due to conditions that may be caused by inadequate maternal and infant care.
At a medical outreach clinic in Kahungabu Village, the Mercy team encountered Amos, a one year old boy suffering from vomiting and abdominal pain. The child had been enrolled in the nutrition program, but was failing to gain weight. Amos was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia (groin area) and an umbilical hernia (belly button area) and surgery at Mercy Hospital was recommended.
Umbilical hernia is common in the developing world and may be the result of a congenital weakness in the abdominal muscles, or caused by severe coughing that leads to increased abdominal pressure. Various risk factors can cause inguinal hernias, including premature birth. Left untreated, umbilical and inguinal hernias can lead to severe health complications in children.
Amos was transported to the hospital, where he was admitted. The surgery was successfully performed by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Amara and Mercy's surgical officer, Lawrence Kargbo. His family didn't have any money for the surgery, but Mercy treats patients regardless of their ability to pay, so there was no charge for the treatment. Amos spent some time in recovery before being released. He and his mother returned later to say "thank you" to the staff of Mercy for their compassionate care.
I am in charge of the outreach program. I make sure the schedule is planned and adhered to when we go on outreach. I make sure the mobile clinic is set up and supervise volunteers and staff to make sure their units are functioning well and doing what they are supposed to do. At the end of the month I ensure all statistics are collated and submitted on time.
Why do I like my job? Ah! It is the passion! It’s really a passion. I like serving people. I like saving lives. I like encouraging people. When they are sick they are stressed and I like to make them feel better. I really like my job as a whole.
This job is very, very important. One, we are targeting vulnerable people, particularly the malnourished children. We have seen that the cases are many so we need to rehabilitate them and help them recover. Many of the protein rich foods are expensive here and families are too poor to afford them. We give them the pikinmix food and health talks to make sure they are helping their children grow. We also do a lot to prevent the malaria prevalence rate, which is so high here. HIV is another area where we can help. Many villages don’t have the facilities so we give them quality counseling and make sure they have access to their medication. Also the prenatal program helps so many people. We advise them to come to Mercy and not give birth at home and give them multivitamins that otherwise they would not get.
Emmanuel Moriba (7 months) was identified on the Mattru on the Rail outreach. He was acutely malnourished and had a fever and coughing for three days. He was given medicine and enrolled into the nutrition program. After two months in the program, he was discharged this month.
His mother, Kadijatu, says, “I was really worried with my child’s condition. I heard that the Mercy Hospital Outreach team will visit our village and I brought him to see them. Thank God, he will well now. They are really caring."
First-time mother Fanta Kargbo, was only 18 years old when she enrolled in Mercy Hospital’s Prenatal Program at one of the outreach team’s trips to her village in Bandajuma in July. Ever since then, she has attended each monthly outreach to check the progress of her pregnancy, and was encouraged to give birth at Mercy when the time came.
She arrived at Mercy one morning in October, experiencing labor pains (which had been going on for some time). She was suffering from prolonged labor and finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy after 5 pm. According to the Mercy’s State Certified Midwife, Christiana Tommy, “it was not easy because she is a first time delivery. She was having trouble pushing and we had to encourage her. We thank God for her being at Mercy where we were able to provide her so much assistance. There were five of us helping her!”
When asked what the fate of Fanta and her baby would have been had she attempted to give birth in the village, the normally cheerful midwife became unusually solemn. “It would have been a problem because she was having difficulty pushing and she needed help. They would have forced her to push and that could have led to a fistula or even the death of the baby. We were able to encourage her, give her a catheter, and stitch up her tear so that she did not get fistula or any other problem.”
Christiana is referring to a basic lack of qualified personnel in the villages. While a village may have a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA), this person is someone who likely has very little to no formal education (not even primary school), but has some basic training in childbirth, and can deliver under normal, uncomplicated circumstances. Many of the village clinics do not have midwives or TBAs, and may only be staffed by a nurse not necessarily trained in childbirth.
Fanta, clearly still exhausted the next day, was also very excited to welcome her new baby into the world. She could not stop smiling as she shared, “I am okay now, thanks to Mercy. I am so happy that my baby is safe."
Foday Koroma Jr. (12 months) is enrolled in Mercy Hospital’s Nutrition Program, and has been receiving Pikinmix (a healthy meal supplement) when Mercy’s Outreach team comes to his village each month.
On a recent trip, the Outreach staff discovered that Foday had a runny nose, cough, and headache. Mercy Outreach staff were able to quickly diagnose and treat him for an acute respiratory infection.
According to his mother, Florence, “I am very happy with the medication. I really saw great improvement. I am impressed with Mercy and the free treatment.