Sierra Leone, a country with a population of over eight million people, is currently facing a shortage of respiratory physicians. However, two Sierra Leoneans based in Cambridge are working towards changing this situation. Adama and James Fofana have initiated a fundraiser for a new Lung Health Centre in Sierra Leone.
The fundraiser is scheduled to take place on October 21 at Anstey Hall, a four-star property located in Trumpington. The event will feature speeches from the founders of the clinic as well as Eddy Smythe, whose father Johnny Smythe was one of the first African pilots to join the RAF during World War II and served as a senior officer on the historic HMT Windrush in 1948.
Adama, who worked as a clinical research co-ordinator at Papworth Hospital for 15 years, and James, an academic service officer at Anglia Ruskin University, established the healthcare charity in 2020. Adama explains that witnessing people struggle with respiratory issues at Papworth Hospital motivated her to take action. She was concerned about the lack of lung-related medical services in Sierra Leone, especially considering the availability of such services in advanced countries like the UK.
A survey conducted by Adama and James revealed that there is no ministry in Sierra Leone dedicated to respiratory health services, and there are no respiratory physicians in the country. James confirms this information, stating that the deputy chief medical officer at the Ministry of Health acknowledged the absence of respiratory physicians and explained that individuals with breathing difficulties are only tested for tuberculosis. If the test results are negative, they receive oxygen for a short period and are then sent home.
The Lung Health Centre being established by Adama and James will be the first of its kind in Sierra Leone. A location has been secured in Bo, the country’s second-largest city, and a deposit has already been paid. The fundraiser aims to help the clinic meet its target of opening in April. Initially, the clinic plans to have two to three nurses, one community health officer, and a medical doctor. Adama and James will be present in Sierra Leone full time to oversee the clinic’s operations and ensure it functions according to their vision.
The upcoming fundraiser at Anstey Hall will provide an opportunity for Adama and James to share their project and the progress made so far.