By Ibrahim Kabba Turay
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Austin Demby, has on Monday 30th January 2023, turned sod for the construction of a burns unit at the Connaught Government Hospital in Freetown.
The burns unit will be courtesy of Leoneoil and NP companies respectively.
The symbolic handing over of the construction site for the burns unit to the above-mentioned companies, also coincided with the handing over of three ambulances for Connaught, Ola During and PCMH Hospital.
The occasion also saw the handing over of medical equipment, which are germane to improving the health sector in the country.
Connaught Hospital was also blessed to turn on a new oxygen plant provided by MSF Holland.
In his keynote address, Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Austin Demby, recounted on the disastrous fire incident which claimed over a hundred lives at Wellington.
“Despite the fact that we hadn’t any burns unit at the time, but we tried to manage it,” he noted.
He spoke highly of the healthcare workers whom he said stood tall to serve the victims of that ugly incident.
The minister disclosed that the country has top class surgeons, but noted that no matter how good the surgeons are, they will be overwhelmed whenever they receive too many burns cases, especially when the country does not have a burns unit.
He disclosed that Government of Sierra Leone vowed to learn from the experience of the November 5th incident at Wellington. He thanked the two companies that have vowed to build the burns unit, adding that Government cannot do it all.
The Minister further emphasized the need for training of healthcare practitioners that will work in the unit, noting that initial trainings were ongoing at present.
He highlighted some of the interventions by the Government of Sierra Leone in the health sector.
Among other things, the Minister talked about the $8 million dollars project which is being funded by the Government of Sierra Leone for the renovation of all major government hospitals across the country.
In addition, Minister Demby also spoke about the $ 10 million dollars grant which the Government has received to equip all major hospitals across the country.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Care Manager at Connaught Hospital, Dr. Mustapha S. Kabba, described the occasion as a history making event. He also recounted on the gruesome fire incident at Wellington which resulted in the loss of lives of over 100 people.
He mentioned that a burns unit fund was establish following the unfortunate incident at Wellington, ‘however Leoneoil and NP Sierra Leone thought it fit to step in and build it,’ he narrated. Dr. Kabba added that their motivation is to ensure that there are adequate facilities to attend to burns victims.
Representing Leoneoil Company, Cole, told all present that the spirit behind their support to the establishment of the burn’s unit is to serve generations yet unborn. Cole disclosed that in a couple of months’ time they will be pleased to hand over the building to Government.
On the other hand, representative of NP Sierra Leone, Kobie Walker, recalled that 154 people lost their lives during the Wellington, whereas, over 400 were affected by the fire. He revealed that the board of NP decided to assign monies set aside for the corporate social responsibility to the burns unit.