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Funding awarded for Sierra Leone health partnership

The King’s Centre for Global Health has been awarded a grant of £114,000 to strengthen health professions education in Sierra Leone. The funding will support a long-term partnership between King’s Health Partners and the College of Medicine & Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) in Sierra Leone, which is the country’s only medical and pharmacy school and largest nursing college.

The partnership will draw on the expertise of staff from across King’s Health Partners to work with staff at COMAHS to develop revised curricula for all programmes, provide training in modern teaching methods, equip classrooms and develop proposals for new training programmes. This will involve visits by medical, nursing and pharmacy educators to Sierra Leone to conduct needs assessments and hold curriculum workshops, as well as provide distance mentoring and support.

The grant was awarded by the Health Partnership Scheme, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) (£20m from the existing aid budget over four years) and managed by The Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET).

Sierra Leone has some of the worst health indicators in the world, with a life expectancy of 47 and the fourth highest child mortality rate. The civil war destroyed much of the country’s health infrastructure and has left a critical shortage of health workers, with only 100 doctors practicing in Sierra Leone for a population of six million. COMAHS is essential for rebuilding the health workforce yet its training capacity is limited: curricula are outdated, staff are not trained in teaching methods and facilities are poorly equipped. 

Professor Sir Robert Lechler, Executive Director of King’s Health Partners, said: “King’s Health Partners is committed to strengthening health education, clinical services and research in low to middle income countries and I am delighted that the King’s Centre for Global Health has received this funding to support our partnership with the College of Medicine & Allied Health Sciences in Sierra Leone. We look forward to working with colleagues at COMAHS to strengthen the education and training infrastructure for health professionals.”

Professor Jonas A S Redwood-Sawyerr, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sierra Leone, said: “The University of Sierra Leone’s College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences values its partnership with King’s Health Partners in the UK, whose experience  in similar economies in Africa provides a platform for best practice. We look forward to the range of activities, especially in the areas of infrastructure development, curriculum development and pedagogical skills for lecturers and are keen to pursue other areas of mutual interest including collaborative research and publication.”-

The partnership will also include: Welbodi Partnership, a British charity that works to improve paediatric services in Sierra Leone; PRIME, a British network of medical educators; and MedicineAfrica, an online learning platform for low-bandwidth environments.

Commenting on the scheme, the International Development Minister, Lynne Featherstone said: "We are delighted to support the Health Partnership Scheme. Through the scheme, British medical expertise is used to help give developing countries the vital skills needed to improve the health of some of the world's poorest people. The programme will train 13,000 overseas healthcare workers dealing with issues from trauma care to maternal health. British nurses, midwives and medical teams are amongst the best in the world and they will help make a real difference in some of the poorest parts of the world.”

The King’s Sierra Leone Partnership relies on volunteers from across King’s Health Partners to support undergraduate health professions education in Sierra Leone through teaching trips, distance learning and fundraising. If you are interested in getting involved in our capacity building work, please contact Hannah Franklin, Global Health Partnerships Coordinator.

For further information on please contact Dr Oliver Johnson, lead for the King's Sierra Leone Partnership.

 

About the King’s Centre for Global Health:

The King’s Centre for Global Health (KCGH) is a joint centre for King’s College London and King’s Health Partners. The Centre has two functions - to develop our own global health education, research and capacity building programmes, and to promote collaboration in global health beyond KCGH, across all 9 Schools within King’s College London and all 21 Clinical Academic Groups within King’s Health Partners.


About King’s Health Partners

King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre brings together one of the world’s top research-led universities, King’s College London, and three of London’s most successful NHS Foundation Trusts – Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and the South London and Maudsley. The partnership provides a unique combination of complex clinical specialties that cover a wide range of physical and mental health related conditions and a breadth of research expertise that spans disciplines from medicine and biomedical sciences to the social sciences and humanities. The partnership is building on existing and emerging strengths in research, training and clinical services to develop a unified culture which integrates clinical and research leadership. Through research, innovation and evaluation, King’s Health Partners will ensure new developments in healthcare are developed rapidly and are effectively translated into benefits for patients locally, nationally and internationally.


About THET (Tropical Health & Education Trust)

THET is a specialist global health organisation that educates, trains and supports health workers through partnerships, strengthening health systems and enabling people in low and middle income countries to access essential healthcare. More information available at www.thet.org