By Jariatu Bangura
A team of thirteen surgeons from the United States of America, known as Foot Print Mission, will be spending time at the Magbenteh hospital in Makeni, in Northern Sierra Leone, where they will operate on an estimated fifty patients from Yele, Gbonkolenkeh chiefdom, Tonkolili district and Makeni respectively.
Speaking at a ceremony to welcome the team of surgeons, Hon. Dr. Abdulai Sesay, Member of Parliament representing constituency 63, commended the Mission for their good initiative to provide medical relief to fifty patients. He said he was delighted to have the team in the hospital and that as co-founder and representative of the people, his desire was that the team would extend their goodwill gesture in the health sector in that part of the country.
He revealed that the Mission had made previous visits to the country, beginning in 2009 and promised that the current duty tour would not be the last. He said the hospital was grappling with lots of challenges, one of which is lack of adequate financial support for smooth operation and the dearth of drugs for patients undergoing surgery.
He noted that some patients could not afford to pay for surgery and the hospital carries the burden of taking care of them, which has a negative impact on the smooth running of the hospital. Thus, he expressed delight about the free drugs and surgery provided by the American surgeons.
He appealed to the Mission to continue its goodwill gesture to the beneficiaries and urged the patients to grab the opportunities which the surgeons present.
Chief Medical Officer at the Hospital, Dr. Sallieu Samba Turay said the team of surgeons were coming at a time the hospital was in a crossroad as they are faced with numerous challenges after non-governmental organizations abandoned them since the end of the civil conflict.
“Patients come in every now and then without monies to pay for their hospital bills or even to do surgery on them and we cannot send them away just like that as they need our help, but with lack funding, we are far behind in promoting and rendering better health to our people because they need our help,” he said.
Leader of the team, Dr. Jeff Smith, said the aim of the mission is to seek the interest of the needy around the world and that since 2009 when they formed the Mission, hundreds of patients have benefited from their magnanimity. He said they were pleased with the gesture of the patients each time they render help to them.
He said that during their first visit to the country they offered free medical surgery to thirty (30) patients, which number they have increased to fifty (50) during their current tour of duty. He said that they could not perform surgery on some patients because of the type of medical ailment they suffer from, but promised to return to the country to provide succor to those who might not have been fortunate to be selected.