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."
23-year-old Baindu Dukullay was identified on an outreach to Flawahun village. She was pregnant with twins and found to have pregnancy induced hypertension. She was treated for the hypertension and referred to Mercy Hospital for future care. She successfully gave birth to two healthy twin girls at Mercy Hospital.
Baindu expressed, “I really appreciate Mercy for their help and keeping myself and my babies safe. They have really been taking good care of people in my village.”
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.
The Child Rescue Centre has expanded its vision to serve children and families who live in the villages of Pujehun and Manguama.
Last month, children from these two villages were enrolled in the Child Support Program so they can begin receiving support for their education. Both underdeveloped and politically marginalized, these small villages suffer from extreme poverty, lack of services and inaccessibility.
Manguama is one of the villages served by Mercy Hospital outreach.
CRC Director Mohamed Nabieu spoke to the new vision to expand to the villages. “We are not only to focus on our comfortable zones, but if we want to make meaningful impact, we have to be ready to reach out to the unreached, speak out for the voiceless and help the underprivileged,” he said.
Over several days in September the CRC team visited the newly established operational areas to distribute school supplies. “The children are all set and ready for the new school year,” CRC Case Manager Victor Kanu reported. The CRC staff counseled the parents to support their children’s education by encouraging them to study and take good care of their school supplies.
If you would like to sponsor one of the children from the new village initiative, please click on the link below.
Theresa Pillar is a 35-year-old blind woman who came to Mercy because she was having difficulty breastfeeding. She and her husband, who is also blind, were so happy to have a baby together, but were distressed when breastfeeding became difficult and painful for the mother. They are extremely poor and cannot afford to provide formula for their baby. Mercy provided the mother with medication to relieve her symptoms and educated her on proper breastfeeding methods, at no cost to the family. Now, the baby is able to breastfeed properly.
“I am feeling so overwhelmed about all that has been done for me at Mercy," Theresa says. "We are very pleased by the help we got from Mercy.”
Ten-month-old Isata Sandy, a twin, was referred to Mercy Hospital by the outreach team for an acute respiratory infection. Isata and her twin sister had recently graduated from the nutrition program when they reached a healthy weight. After treatment at the hospital, Isata made a full recovery.
Her mother, Isata Sandy, expressed her thanks for Mercy's care of her baby. “I am very grateful for Mercy Hospital for treating my child. Mercy Hospital nurses are very nice and treated us very well.”
Mohamed Khadar and Ismael Vandy, members of Mercy Hospital's outreach team, were on a community mapping exercise to understand the needs in some of the villages reached by Mercy when they intervened to save the life of a woman who had just given birth to a stillborn baby.
The woman had given birth in her village and was walking the four miles to Kassama to seek medical treatment at the Maternal Child Health Post (MCHP). As she was walking, the woman began hemorrhaging and sought shelter in a hut by the side of the road. When Mohamed and Ismael encountered her, she was lying in a pool of blood and quickly losing consciousness. Mohamed immediately began treatment to stop the uterine bleeding and sent for help, which certainly saved the woman's life.
This story is far from typical for women giving birth in villages without MCHPs. The Sierra Leone government mandates that each village should be within four miles of a MCHP where women can seek treatment for themselves and their babies; but four miles is nearly an impossible distance to walk for a woman who has just given birth, let alone a woman who has had a complicated birth.
Thanks to Mohamed and Ismael's intervention, this woman survived. Clearly, there is a desperate need for more MCHPs in the villages served by Mercy's outreach teams.
Mercy Hospital's HIV/AIDS team received high praise from the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation for their impressive results with clients identified with HIV/AIDS.
"The National Secretariat of HIV/AIDS made a call lavishing praises on the Mercy Hospital HIV/AIDS Unit for their continuing follow-up with clients identified with the virus," Mercy Hospital Administrator Jinnah Lahai reported. "Out of 70 samples sent for viral load case definition, 35 have been reported 'target not-detected.' Meaning, these clients can no longer transfer the virus as long as they continue their treatment. Special bravo to Mercy Hospital's HIV/AIDS Counselor Mr. Mohamed Koroma and his team for their continuing follow-up on these clients," he added.
When an HIV/AIDS patient achieves an undetectable viral load, it means that the level of HIV in the blood is below the threshold needed for detection, and indicates that the antiretroviral treatment is working. It does not mean the patient is cured, but it should mean that they are no longer infectious and will not transfer the virus to their sexual partner, as long as they continue treatment.
HIV/AIDS is a life-long disease and cannot be cured. However, it is possible to delay the onset of AIDS, and many HIV positive people are now able to live a healthy and normal lifespan by adhering to the treatment regimen. If taken daily, AZT, the most common treatment, prevents HIV from progressing to AIDS (Acquired Immune Definiciency Syndrome), and brings the viral load down and "suppresses" it so that it is undetectable. The client is still HIV-positive (infected with the human immunodeficiency virus) but they are extremely unlikely to infect other people with HIV. This is especially good news for pregnant women and couples that are called "discordant" (one is HIV-positive and one is negative).
"It's wonderful Mercy is having these results," reported Medical Programs Field Director Specialist Kim Nabieu. "It means that the HIV unit is really good at following up with its clients and encouraging them to take their treatment. This is not an easy task, as many people live in denial and do not like to accept that they are positive."
Mercy Hospital HIV Counselor Mohamed Koroma, AHF representative Rosaline, and team conduct HIV/AIDS testing on village outreach. Mohamed's team received high praise from the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health for their good results with clients.
Child: Mary, 14 months
Mother: Musu, a teacher
"My child was very sick when I brought her for treatment to the outreach team for the first time. She was having cold, severe fever and loss of appetite for three days. My child was treated free of cost and she was enrolled in the Nutrition program and supplied the pikin mix for the first time. Now she has received four packets before discharged from the program."
Aminata, 15 months
Mother: Mamie, a housewife
"My child was very sick and had loss weight in the previous months and we heard of the Mercy outreach team visiting our community last month and they treated my child and enrolled her in the nutrition program. The child`s health is very good and now my child is due for discharge because she is very healthy now with no complains of fever nor headache. I am very thankful for the free medications given to our children because the cost of drugs is expensive so therefore we appreciate the effort of both Mercy Hospital outreach team and partners that fund this program for us and our children."
Tenneh, 8 months
Mother: Isata, a farmer
"My child has taken the pikin mix supply (Benemix) three times and her body structure has increased as compared to the first months when the enrolled her in the nutrition program. She is very strong and her weight has also increased. When she is ill we get free treatment form the Mercy Hospital outreach team free of cost and this free treatment is really helping our children and us in this communities. I want to thank the Mercy Hospital outreach team and the partners that sponsors the various programs."
Osman, 16 months
Mother: Aminata, a housewife
"My child has received six packets of pikin mix since I was enrolled in the program. Now his weight is high and he is very strong and healthy. The outreach team and the Mercy Hospital have been very helpful in supplying the pikin mix and giving me health talks on personal hygiene and method of preparing the pikin mix for consumption by my child. We are very grateful for the free services rendered to us every month in our community."
Staff member donates blood to safe a life
Alice, age 6, was suffering from severe anemia caused by malaria and as a result needed a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, no relative was a match and the family could not afford to pay for a donor. Typically in Sierra Leone blood is donated by the family.
Mercy’s Outreach Coordinator, Mohamed Khadar, immediately offered to step in and donate blood to save Alice's life. “Really, I am very happy to donate," Mohamed says. "It is all about saving a life. Some people are afraid to donate blood but I know it is so important. It makes me glad to see her well again.” Alice is much improved and reunited with her family.
Mercy Outreach Coordinator, Mohamed Khadar donated blood to save the life of a young malaria patient.
Toddler treated for malnutrition and complications
Eustacia, nearly 18 months old, could easily pass for less than a year old. She came into Mercy suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhea, and was so weak she couldn't walk.
Mercy diagnosed Eustacia with chronic malnutrition and enrolled her in the nutrition program. Hopefully she will soon achieve normal weight, thanks to Mercy's intervention. Malnutrition is common among poor babies and toddlers in Sierra Leone, and is a contributing factor in the high under-five mortality rate. One of Mercy's prime missions is to address chronic malnutrition and save babies' lives.
Eustacia would have died from malnutrition without Mercy's intervention.
Early intervention rescues toddler from deadly malaria and typhoid
Mohamed, aged 20 months, was brought into Mercy by his 18 year old mother, Mariatu. Mohamed was so weak he could not lift his head. The nurses described him as “completely helpless.” He was suffering from malaria and typhoid, debilitating diseases for an adult, but deadly for a young baby. The Mercy staff administered a blood transfusion to treat Mohamed's anemia, and medications to combat the typhoid, fever and constipation, and the listless baby quickly began to regain his strength.
All of these diseases, while serious, are curable when medical care is sought early. His mother brought him to Mercy because she had often encountered the Mercy staff when they came to her village on outreach and trusted them. Mariatu praised the Mercy staff for their compassionate care of her baby. “I just thank God. Yesterday I was seriously crying. I actually thought he was going to die. He is my only child. I am so happy he is well now!"
Mohamed's mother is so grateful that Mercy saved her son's life. "I actually thought he was going to die!"
Giving birth at the hospital saved this mother's baby
Princess had already given birth to two children in a peripheral health unit (PHU), small clinics in rural villages staffed by midwives and nurses. Sometimes PHUs have a Community Health Officer (CHO), but never a doctor.
Although Princess' other pregnancies were normal, her sister-in-law encouraged her to give birth to her third child at Mercy Hospital, a decision that would ultimately save the baby’s life. Princess’ baby was born underweight and not breathing, probably because her mother had an undiagnosed sexually transmitted infection, which can cause birth complications, low birth weight, or even stillbirth. The mother had attended Mercy’s antenatal care program, but out of embarrassment had not told the maternity staff about the STI symptoms.
Mercy’s maternity staff immediately went into action, spending almost 30 minutes resuscitating the baby, who finally began to breathe, although she was still not crying. Due to the STI, the baby had inhaled a large amount of mucus in the womb. It was a tense couple of hours as the treatment took effect. At last, the baby slowly gained coloring and tentatively start to cry.
The staff breathed a collective sigh of relief when it became clear that the baby would live. Princess was extremely relieved. “I am really happy and appreciate for what Mercy did for me and my baby. I know if I had gone to the PHU the baby would not have survived. I am so grateful for what Mercy did for us.”
The nurses also confirmed that the PHU would not have been able to manage the case, and the baby surely would have died.
Princess's baby most likely survived because she gave birth at Mercy Hospital, instead of in the village.