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PROFILE

  AN INSIGHT INTO THE LIFE JOURNEY OF DR. EDWARD ALI NAHIM, SIERRA  LEONE CONSULTANT PSYCHIATRIST

June 27, 2019

 By Mustapha Momoh

profile

Dr. Edward Ali Nahim is a Sierra Leonean Psychiatrist who was born on the 12th December 1944 in Port Loko, Northern Sierra Leone. His mother was a themne and his father a Lebanese national who settled and lived in Port Loko.

Dr. Nahim grew up in Port Loko and Pepel in the northern region of Sierra Leone. He started his primary education at the Church of England School in Pepel now called the Sierra Leone Church (SLC) School and later further his Secondary education at the Schlenker Secondary School in Port Loko from form 1 to 3,He later proceeded to the Bo Government Secondary School in 1959 where he sat his O’ level and A’ level exams respectively

In 1965, Dr. Nahim travelled to the Soviet Union now Russia to study Medicine for seven years where he graduated with MD (Doctor of Medicines)

Upon graduation in 1972, Dr. Nahim decided to return to Sierra Leone that same year and started working with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, where he has worked for many years

Dr. Nahim later went to London in 1978 to study Psychiatry and graduated with a Diploma in Psychological medicines; became a member of the Royal College of Psychiatry United Kingdom and came back to Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1982 and has been working at the mental hospital up till now.

Although he is retired, but he is on a yearly contract as a consultant psychiatrist, avowed Dr. Nahim

His early professional life was very challenging as he was the only consultant psychiatrist in the Republic of Sierra Leone. As a way to pass on his knowledge to students at the medical school in Sierra Leone, Dr. Nahim introduced psychiatry at the College of Medicines and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) and has been lecturing at COMAHS until his retirement last year

Dr. Nahim treats mental patients from correctional centers, Police custody, homes and on the streets. During the rebel war in Sierra Leone, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader, Foday Sankoh was in his custody when he was declared mad and was treating him in a secret location so that he would not be released by the rebels

After the 11 years brutal civil war, Dr. Nahim demobilized child soldiers and treated them for both physical and mental illnesses and as well as job rehabilitation so that they could find jobs to survive

Dr. Nahim’s motivation as a doctor was to do a specialist course in general medicine, but the Chief Medical Officer then requested that he study psychiatry as there was none in Sierra Leone. He graciously accepted and went to do a post graduate psychiatric training

The highlights of Dr. Nahim’s career is the fact that he has been able to maintain psychiatric treatment in Sierra Leone for over 35 years and mental health has survived

Dr. Nahim is a consummate professional who loves and enjoys his job passionately and never regretted being a psychiatrist at all

Generally, some of the challenges faced in psychiatry in Sierra Leone are that it is poorly understood, stigmatized, isolated and poorly funded by the government. Psychiatry is a big challenge in Sierra Leone today, both for family members and the Ministry of Health

Dr. Nahim chose psychiatric not because of the money but to help all mental patients in Sierra Leone as he sometimes treats patients for free

Dr. Nahim personal appeal to the government is for an increase funding for all mental health services in Sierra Leone, the training of more psychiatric nurses and doctors and to increase psychiatric hospitals nationwide

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