Sierra Leone’s Health System

Hello. My name is Alpha Mansaray. I am currently a freshman at the college. I was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I left Sierra Leone due to a civil war that tore the nation apart. The civil war destroyed more than the physical appearance of my native land; it destroyed the hopes and the dreams of its citizens.  I went back to Sierra Leone after the civil war, only to find a nation that was in worst conditions than I remembered. I remembered coming back to the United States, and feeling compelled to help my beloved homeland.  When I got to college I joined the Sharpe Community Scholars program, because I knew it would help me make a difference in Sierra Leone. The Sharpe program encouraged me to develop a research topic and of course, my research topic focused on Sierra Leone. In Sharpe, I researched ways in which an individual like myself could help solve the problems caused by the Sierra Leone Civil War, and I eventually landed on the health system.  I researched the health system of Sierra Leone for an entire semester. After Fall semester, I concluded the next phase of my research is to go to Sierra Leone to observe the system in person. From theses observation, I want to develop a research question that I can work on throughout my years in academia, and beyond that will help fix some aspect of the health system of Sierra Leone.

The research I am doing is qualitative research.  I will be working with a World Health Organization (WHO) worker in Sierra Leone named Ann Marie. Ann Marie’s job is to review how monetary donations are being spent in the health care infrastructure system. I want to observe Ann Marie in her job, so I can see which aspects of the infrastructure receive the most money; which receive the least money; which facets are in need of more money; as well as which ones should be given less money; I will also be observing which parts of the infrastructure are wasting the most money. I will only shadow Ann Marie twice a week, because this is her professional job. My presence will take away from her efficiency and resources; therefore I don’t want to be a burden to her or affect her job in any unnecessary way. The next aspect of my research is to visit hospitals and clinics, where I will be able talk to doctors, nurses and patients. I will inform all parties whom I talk to about my project, and what I am trying to do. I will also tell individuals that everything they say will be confidential, unless they want their names used. I will ask each individual 3 simple questions. 1) Tell me about your experience with the health care system? 2) What would you say needs to be changed? And lastly 3) Do you see the health care system improving? If so, how? If not, why not? From these formative qualitative discussions, I believe I will gain insight into the perspective of the people that the health system is supposes to serve. I will not be alone when going to these hospitals to talk to the patients, doctors and nurses. Ann Marie will assign someone to go with me on these journeys. I will do this twice a week as well.  From this; I can hopefully zero in on which aspect I want to make the most impact on when it comes to the heath system in Sierra Leone.

My hope is that after hearing these stories and shadowing Ann Marie, I will be able to zero in on a problem of the health system of Sierra I can work on helping to fix. From this I would like to develop a specific research question, which will be my end goal. I plan to use this research question to help guide the type of humanitarian work I want to do in Sierra Leone for decades to come.