News / Africa

Sierra Leone Doctor Returns from US to Improve Health Services

Dr. Sylvester Nicol
Dr. Sylvester Nicol

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid