RCGP International: Supporting primary care in Sierra Leone

Our first series of blog posts follows the work of RCGP International in Sierra Leone.

Dr Padma Wignesvaran MRCGP is the very first volunteer to take part in the exciting RCGP/VSO partnership in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone’s health sector was severely affected by the Ebola outbreak and we hope this programme is the first stage of a broader RCGP intervention in the health systems strengthening there.

Padma’s role focuses on service delivery and crucially to provide professional development training to primary health care workers in Makeni in the Bombali district of Sierra Leone. 

Goodbye London, Hello Sierra Leone

- Dr Padma Wignesvaran 

After a taxi, two planes, a bus, a boat and another car journey I finally make it to the house I will be staying at based in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. I will be here for one week before I go to Makeni where I'll be working.


Freetown Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone


My first week in Freetown is spent at the VSO offices where I have my "In Country Orientation". I meet the whole team and Francess, who works as an administrator here, shows me around. I now have a sim card, a bank account and have seen the VSO doctor. I am also having Krio sessions with a Reverend, which is really useful. In Makeni they speak both Krio and Temne so hopefully by the end of the year I will be able to speak both.

On my first day visit the Department of Health, where I meet another British doctor who is here with VSO. He's a public health registrar who's here on a fellowship, working in the Department of Health. He gives me plenty of advice, including where to eat. Luckily for me being a vegetarian is not a problem here - the restaurants are all accommodating with delicious food such as falafel.

I was supposed to go to Makeni before the end of my first week however it's delayed due to problems finding accommodation, so now I'm going next week instead. I'm disappointed; I was really looking forward to going and getting settled in. However these things happen and on the plus side, this will give me time to catch up on my appraisal and do some reading on obstetrics and tropical medicine - it has been a while.


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