King’s Sierra Leone Partnership
In 2011 the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership (KSLP) was established, with an in-country operation launching in Freetown in January 2013. The partnership helps to build Sierra Leone’s health system by strengthening training, clinical services, policy and research. It responds directly to the needs of the health sector in the country. The partnership is long-term and is based on reciprocal learning and mutual benefit.
Sierra Leone faces a number of challenges in developing a functioning health system, including:
- a critical shortage of nurses, dentists, health professionals and doctors, with only 150 doctors working in the public sector
- a life expectancy of 48 years, one of the lowest in the world
- the effects of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which continues to have a huge impact on Sierra Leone and its neighbouring countries in west Africa.
KSLP works in partnership from their base in Freetown to develop the country’s healthcare system with:
- Connaught Hospital – the country’s principal adult referral hospital, providing medical and surgical services. The team work with colleagues at Connaught Hospital to achieve its mission to become a centre of excellence for specialist patient care, training and research. The team provide a range of specialist expertise in clinical care and hospital management
- College of Medicine and Allied Health Science – this is Sierra Leone’s only medical and pharmacy school and is the main institution for basic and specialist nurse training. The College is critical for the rebuilding of the health workforce but has limited training capacity. With a grant from the Department for International Development, King’s Sierra Leone Partnership supports the College to develop its curricula for all programmes, train staff and equip classrooms
- Ministry of Health and Sanitation – the team work closely with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to ensure that work is aligned with national priorities. They also work to support the Ministry in developing policies and strengthening management systems in healthcare.
KSLP also works in collaboration with the University of Sierra Leone Teaching Hospitals Complex (USLTHC), some key successes from this partnership include:
- the interdisciplinary delivery of the Sierra Leonean Early Warning Score (SLEWS) system, improving patient vital monitoring and prompting a clinical response to acutely unwell patients
- promoting early diagnosis and initiation of treatment for HIV to develop provider-initiated testing and counselling. This ensures that all patients attending the Accident and Emergency department are offered a HIV test
- mentoring a national network of mental health nurse-led clinics, providing vital access to mental health care, whilst supporting improved data collection and assessment of the burden of mental health in Sierra Leone, to support the development of the National Mental Health Plan
- constructing a Centre for Excellence for Infectious Diseases, a purpose-built tuberculosis outpatient department and a re-designed infectious diseases unit
- supporting efforts to combat the growing worldwide threat of antimicrobial resistance. The infectious diseases team has aided with the collation of available data and development of a pragmatic set of national antimicrobial guidelines, developed at USLTHC with clinicians, pharmacists and laboratory staff, and disseminated through a mobile app.