Things have been progressing well with our Sierra Leone (60 for 60) international project and we are delighted to announce that we have successfully recruited the first two volunteers to the Sierra Leone project. Our pioneering pair will be travelling out to the Makeni region of Sierra Leone in October.
Our Sierra Leone project, which has been managed by RCGP Senior International Officer, Tom Owen with support from clinical adviser Dr Ed Parry Jones, aims to use the skills, knowledge and expertise of our GPs to help support the training of health workers in the Makeni region. Our volunteers will be based in the Makeni Regional Hospital in the north of the country, approximately 85 miles east of the capital, Freetown.
We wanted to make sure we will be providing sustainable support to Sierra Leone, who have a multi professional approach to primary care delivery through both hospitals and peripheral health units. To do this we have teamed up with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) who have over 55 years experience in delivering cost effective, sustainable solutions to poor communities.
We want to say a big thank you to everyone who contributed to our Sierra Leone campaign, which hit our target and raised over £60,000. This is a brilliant achievement and has inspired our volunteers to get involved in the project. While we have met our target for our Sierra Leone project, your continued support is greatly appreciated and we are still accepting donations to support our commitment to developing primary care in the Sub Saharan Africa.
Our first volunteer: Dr Ceri Gallivan
Ceri is a GP from Sheffield who previously took a training break between Specialist Training years two and three to study for the Diploma of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool, before volunteering at the Billy Riordan Clinic in Cape Maclear, Malawi, for 6 months as part of an Out of Programme Experience.
"Since my time in Malawi I have been looking for another opportunity to work abroad so I was excited to learn about the collaboration between RCGP and VSO. I am passionate about the role primary healthcare can play in improving health outcomes in a resource poor setting. I am looking forward to living and working in a new country and culture, and exploring how we can work together to benefit the local community."
Our second volunteer: Dr Emily Clark
Emily is a GP in the East of England and has previously volunteered on educational projects in Ghana, Kenya, Sri Lanka and India. She has maintained a passion for international development, particularly the causes the RCGP International and VSO dedicate themselves to, from her beginnings in academia, through to her volunteering with the Lasallian Developing World Projects.
Emily told us,
"I am very excited about this opportunity to work creatively with local colleagues, to share ideas and achieve sustainable development of family medicine in Sierra Leone. I will be travelling there with my husband, Dashiell, who is an anaesthetic trainee and will be working with a charity in a nearby hospital."
We will continue to work closely with Ceri and Emily, alongside VSO, to ensure that they are fully prepared for departure, have peer support when in the country and are given the appropriate debrief on their return.
We’re sure that you will join us in welcoming Ceri and Emily to the project and wishing them all the best for their time in Makeni. Keep an eye on our Just Giving page for updates on how the project is progressing, to read the latest news and see photographs of the project.
The International team will be recruiting another two volunteers to go to Sierra Leone in 2015. If you, or anyone you know, want more information about volunteering, please get contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the RCGP International 60 for 60 page.
Unfortunately, as you may have seen in the news, there has been an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The disease, which started in Guinea, has now spread into parts of Liberia and Sierra Leone. With no cure for Ebola, the safety of our GPs is of paramount importance and we will be monitoring the situation with VSO to ensure that our volunteers will not be at risk.
Recognition of GPs contribution in voluntary settings
One of our key aims for the Sierra Leone (60 for 60) international project was to highlight and promote the positive contribution GPs can make when volunteering to work in genuine primary care placements.
Prior to this project our experience suggested that GPs were predominantly recruited to work in secondary care placements. We worked hard with VSO to develop a placement which we felt was rooted in primary care, allowing our GP volunteers the opportunity to best utilise their family medicine skills.
We are delighted to report that VSO truly embraced the value of primary care placements. They have taken the Job Profile we have developed and used this as a template to create more primary care focused GP volunteering opportunities. We will continue to work with VSO to promote any GP placements to our members.
Your donation is making a real difference and saving the lives of women, men and children by improving the skills and training of those looking after them.
Our thanks once again,
Professor Val Wass FRCGP
BSc (Hons) FRCP FRCGP MHPE PhD FHEA FCGP(SL)
Chair of International Committee