News / Africa

Sierra Leone Doctor Returns from US to Improve Health Services

Dr. Sylvester Nicol
Dr. Sylvester Nicol

Multimedia

Sierra Leone's health system has suffered from decades of corruption and the destruction wrought by a long civil war. The few functioning hospitals are under-staffed and short on medical supplies and equipment. Now a new medical center provides high quality services all under one roof. In this edition of Making a Difference we introduce you to Dr. Sylvester Nicol.

Freetown, Sierra Leone's bustling capital city, sits on the slopes of mountains that slide steeply into the Atlantic Ocean. During ten years of civil war, Sierra Leone's institutions crumbled from widespread corruption and the mass exodus of the country's  professional class. None more so than the health sector. Today a population of 6 million relies on the services of just 77 doctors.

Many Sierra Leoneans in the country's diaspora are now considering coming back.

One of the few to make the leap is Dr. Sylvester Nicol.  He moved home in 2008 after living abroad for 14 years.

He left behind a successful medical practice in the United States to establish a unique facility in Freetown.

"The concept was to have as many services under one roof as possible," Dr. Nicol explained. "This is a common concept elsewhere, but in Freetown usually after you see a physician you might have to go elsewhere for a lab test, then somewhere else to get an x-ray."

Dr. Nicol built and manages the medical center which offers out-patient, laboratory and x-ray services, a pharmacy and more sophisticated services such as ultrasounds and specialized lab work. The center also has an intensive care ward. "What I love about my job is the fact that people can get better and, if you do it well, quickly. It is very very rewarding," he said.

Dr. Nicol believes that a strong private sector is key to social development in his country. He believes his medical practice will convince others in the diaspora to move back home and rebuild their country.

"I think it is an incentive for people to come back especially the middle class folks who are the ones who drive the economy. They need and they are used to a certain type of healthcare," he said.

Sukai Alghali moved back to Freetown from London two years ago. She has trouble with high blood pressure but says the other health facilities in Freetown are not up to standard.  "The center is a God-send. I think for the doctor to leave America to come here, you know, it must be - he must have the love of the country," she said.

Although consultations cost only $15, many Sierra Leoneans cannot afford the  services at the medical center. But Dr. Nicol treats everyone who comes his way and tries to balance his business between those who can and those who cannot pay.

"In Africa you have to have services for people who cannot pay the 50,000 leones [$15]. Just as a medical person, you treat people who come through your door and you worry about being paid later," Dr. Nicol said.

It's not easy to operate such a center in Sierra Leone. Clinics here must cope with regular power cuts, a lack of trained medical personnel and drug shortages.

"It was a huge challenge," Dr. Nicol stated. "But like any significant thing that you do, it has to be challenging for it to be rewarding."  

Dr. Nicol has no regrets and no plans to move back to the United States.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid