Partnership: The University of Sierra Leone, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library and the University of Cardiff Library
2011 September: Safe motherhood project in Sierra Leone - In collaboration with the charity Life for African Mothers (formerly Hope for Grace Kodindo) this project will support a partnership between midwives in Sierra Leone and Wales to develop and evaluate a training programme and educational materials for midwives and traditional birth attendants which builds on, and contributes to, best practice in sub-saharan Africa.
This project builds on the success of a three year DelPHE-funded project Community health information for poverty alleviation in Sierra Leone which supported and evaluated the work of health promoters in Sierra Leone, a successful funding bid to Wales for Africa has enabled work to begin on a safe motherhood project in late 2011.
Spreading the message in Halimatu Market
Health talk on weaning foods, Wilberforce Barracks Clinic, Freetown, March 2009
Community Health Information for Poverty Alleviation in Sierra Leone: A DelPHE-funded partnership between the University of Sierra Leone and Cardiff University
A project led by the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), University of Sierra Leone, in partnership with Cardiff University and Partnerships in Health Information was granted three years DelPHE funding in late 2006. The Development Partnerships in Higher Education (DelPHE) projects are funded by the UK Department of International Development and managed by the British Council. This project was showcased in the Council’s annual report for 2007/8.
The project developed and evaluated resource centres for community health throughout the rural areas of Sierra Leone.
Aims and objectives
The aims of the programme were to develop locally appropriate health information materials to support health care staff in the fight against extreme poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Training programmes were included for health professionals in the retrieval and dissemination of ‘evidence-based’ heath information. Topics covered were:
Safe drinking water and diarrhoea prevention
Safe motherhood & family planning
The main contacts for the project partners were Mrs LN M’jamtu-Sie, Project Director at COMAHS and Dr Alison Weightman, Head of Library Service Development at Cardiff University, supported by Partnerships in Health Information (Shane Godbolt).
The specific objectives were to:
1. Promote active health improvement in the rural areas of Sierra Leone by developing a network of resource centres within health clinic or other community settings.
2. Locate, repackage and/or develop health care materials to suit various levels of users in the community.
3. Collaborate with and support health workers within communities with a role for the provision of health care advice given orally.
4. Evaluate the impact of the resource centres.
- Agreement of topic areas and seven resource centre locations
- Health promoters trained; Literature searching workshops held for health professionals
- Educational resources collected and evaluated
- Resource Centre collections (books, leaflets, CD/DVDs, posters etc.) distributed
- Repurposing of information where needed, including posters and street theatre skits
- Health promoters carrying out health promotion activities, developing networks via Markets, Schools & Churches and completing reflective activity diaries
- Collection & evaluation of baseline data on community knowledge completed early ’08, followed up evaluation: Spring/Summer ’09.
The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) was established in 1988 and became a constituent college of the University of Sierra Leone in the same year. The COMAHS Library has relied heavily on donor support for its collection development.
Cardiff University Library and Information Services: The Medical Library at the university provides information services to support undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as academic staff, and provides services for the staff of Cardiff and the Vale NHS Trust.
Formation and aims of the partnership
The partnership was formally established in 1998, as a university to university partnership with wider community involvement. It developed through exchange visits between the UK and Sierra Leone with an emphasis on the concepts of evidence based medicine, the training of librarians in information retrieval, and the development of training programmes for health students and workers.
Highlights of Past activities and achievements
2010 March: Pademba Road Library - African Prisons project - Phi’s then-Director, Shane Godbolt, and Trustee, Nick Naftalin, carried out a visit to Sierra Leone with Stevie Russell (Librarian at University College London). Stevie has written a blog on her visit and the ‘Library for Pademba Road Prison’ project. Please visit this blog if you would like to find out more about this fascinating visit and project. This project was led by AdvocAid, a civil society organisation which advocates for women prisoners in Sierra Leone, together with the African Prisons Project, and was supported by Phi.
2010: Visit to UK - Anthony Thompson Award - James Massally, the teacher-librarian at the Annie Walsh Memorial School, Freetown, Sierra Leone was the 2010 winner of the Anthony Thompson Award. (The School was involved in the above project to improve health information for the community.) James was also a Masters Student at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, pursuing an M. Phil. in Library and Information Studies. His motivation in applying for the award was to "use my knowledge and skills to contribute alongside others to national development in Sierra Leone….to help move school librarianship forward as the current Coordinator of School Librarians in my country… and to expand my knowledge in the area of Information and Communication Technology."
2006-2010 Partnership project - The partnership received DelPHE funding for a 3 year project: Health Information for Communities in Sierra Leone. This project builds upon the success of previous partnership activities by focusing on community health information as a tool for poverty alleviation in Sierra Leone, by engaging the wider community. Read more.
2008: The first HINARI training workshop (three days) took place in Sierra Leone for health professionals and students to enable them to access electronic versions of health journals free of charge. Kwame Oneill, final year medical student at the University of Sierra Leone wrote: "The materials accessed from the HINARI website are invaluable to me. My dissertation was suffering from lack of materials but HINARI changed all that”
2007: The partnership produced a set of briefing papers on a range of health topics for use in university and district health settings in Sierra Leone, including sections on training resources of potential value for community health centre, school and other community settings.
Links and resources
Health Information for Poverty Alleviation project featured in the British Council’s 2007/08 annual DelPHE report.
HINARI: Medical students share skills in accessing and using electronic in Sierra Leone.
Health Information for Poverty Alleviation paper given at 12th Congress of AHILA, Burkina Faso.