Sierra Leone is a small country the size of Wales on the West African coast, 8th poorest country in the world. What is the face of this poverty? The lack of justice and the lack of health care! What is the answer? Education!
How many times have I said that, when talking to potential supporters of EducAid and people I meet and am explaining our work to and yet, each time we see it again, it hits me like a sand bag.
Yesterday, Amadu S Fofanah (14) died.
What did he die of? Who knows! Probably malaria.
Why did he die? Because he was taken by his family to some quack doctor’s place for endless drips, probably of saline solution and Vitamin B and there was no proper diagnosis or treatment. Because this guy is not licensed to practice, his body was then sneaked out and taken away for burial.
Who will ask questions? Nobody!
Why did his family take Amadu there? Because the quack pharmacy guy is also part of the family and he will treat at a reduced rate. Because there is no free medical care. Because the nearby government hospital, with only one behind the times doctor, is in fact just as disastrous a place anyway – with guess work, over-priced prescriptions and needless death a daily reality.
If you are ill in Sierra Leone you are in trouble. Those that survive, do so against horrible odds but the average life expectancy is still in the 40s.
I still believe that education is the answer. I still believe that the only way the appalling life and death statistics here will change is when there is an educated population, from among whom good, well informed doctors with integrity can emerge and a population that is able to ask intelligent questions about their health, the diagnosis, a proposed treatment and stop blindly believing whatever they are told and a population that knows its responsibilities and demands its rights.
We are fighting and we will continue to fight but before these enormous problems are solved, far too many more Amadus will be lost for no good reason. Tragic, heart-breaking, unacceptable! In the name of all those we have lost, we renew our efforts to fight ignorance and pursue informed integrity.
We are angry. We are devastated. We are ready to fight on.