Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

     The MSF hospital in Kenema is modern proof of this principle.
     Sending international health care workers is good, but teaching local doctors and nurses is better. The ratio of international to local health care workers in most MSF projects is about eight to one. This is because MSF is committed to leaving a legacy of better trained national health care workers.
     There has never been many doctors in Sierra Leone. Not during the British colonial period. Not since. Never. No wonder health care has languished. No wonder this poor country has the highest maternal mortality in the world! 
     About ten percent of the few doctors in the country died in the 2014 Ebola epidemic. Imagine losing a tenth of the doctors in Canada!
     MSF saw this happen and decided they would be part of the solution. MSF decided to build a hospital for mothers and children and to focus on educating the next generation of Sierra Leone doctors and nurses. They are doing that in Kenema and it's working. 
     The young women and men who serve as Community Health Officers (CHO) in Kenema might be the best and the brightest young minds in the country. They take a two-year course to become a CHO. I've heard criticism of this short duration of training. I've heard comments that the CHO's aren't ready, that they don't know enough. These comments lack sensitivity. I don't believe they are true. 
      I've worked side-by-side with these dedicated young women and men. They care about the children. They know they are saving the lives of the next generation of Sierra Leone citizens. They understand they are building a better future for their people and their county. It shows in their eyes when they look at a sick child. It shows in their smile when the sick child improves. It shows in their resolve when a child dies.  
     They might be short on conventional teaching but they are long on their dedication to learn. These bright young men and women are like sponges that soak up every bit of practical knowledge offered. Their eyes light up with every new idea. What a pleasure to work with! They came to MSF to learn and learn they will. I think they are doing fantastic. They are the health care future of Sierra Leone. Onward and upward!


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