By Amin Kef Sesay
During a media engagement on the 6th March 2020, Harish Agnani, Head of the ultra-modern Choithram Memorial Hospital, which is situated in the West End of Freetown, informed newsmen that a team of medical personnel from Germany is currently offering a two weeks paediatric treatment for children within the ages of 5 to 16 years old at the hospital up at Hill Station which started on the 28th February 2020 and will end on the 12th March 2020.
He informed newsmen that within the past two months the hospital has made progress citing the expansion of the reception area saying it was small to accommodate the growing number of people who come to the hospital and assured that work will be completed in few months’ time.
He also mentioned how they have shipped equipment worth Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000) some which are on the high seas and others will be shipped soon further revealing that they decided to construct a reservoir where water could be stored especially during the rainy season to be used for cleaning purposes, that they have secured additional beds and installed some new equipment.
Harish also intimated that the team performs 10 surgical operations in a day and starts work from 7:30 am and ends at 6:30pm. He mentioned how they intend to target more than 100 patients but deal with the amount they are able to do based on the severity of the cases.
Present also were some members of the team from Germany headed by Dr. Morley Wright and also include Dr. Ibrahim Al-Naieb, Dr. Tilman, Dr Esther Lau, Dr.Sara Al-Naieb, Dr. Kathrin Ruesse, Mrs Esther Kaeuffler and Mrs Madeleine Martin.
According to Dr Wright: “Bintumani DSL in Germany and Choithram Memorial Hospital have been collaborating over the years to roll out the Free Paediatric Camps which are funded through donations solicited in Germany and out of what is raised is what we use to fund the organization of these camps and procure equipment that we do utilize in addition to what Choithram has,” adding they have been able to treat over 43 cases so far and do follow-up treatments but after they return to Germany Choithram continues to deal with the follow-up cases.
He furthered that prior to the surgical treatment of patients during the medical camps notices are put out to members of the public through the social media and other outlets informing interested persons of the upcoming Free Medical Paediatric Camps.
Those who are the successful applicants are first screened before the arrival of the team. He also disclosed that the free medical camps are held once in a year but highlighted that if the resources are available and there is the need it could be done twice in a year.
“We do select cases which we are aware we can treat meaning that we do not treat all types of complication,” he underscored.
It was intimated that the Free Paediatric Camp started since 2014 and the beneficiaries do not pay a single cent, are fed and even given free medicines until completion of their treatment.
According to Dr. Wright since the commencement of the free medical camp more than 500 cases have been dealt with in this country and most have been successful.
On his part, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Naieb, a member of the team stated that they are happy to work here in Sierra Leone by offering free medical treatment to children.
He warmly commended the Management of the Choithram Memorial Hospital for what he termed as doing a marvellous and fantastic work.
Gowrinath M. George, Medical Superintendent of Choithram Memorial Hospital also said the offer of the free treatment is part of their Corporate Social Responsibility as an institution, adding that the free screening and treatment is geared towards providing qualitative and free treatment.
He went on to divulge that the organization of these periodic camps is in line with the aim and objective of the founder of the hospital, Pa Choithram, a philanthropist who had a dream to provide medical succour for the poor and needy who could not afford to pay medical bills.
Responding to a question on how prepared is the hospital to deal with any outbreak of corona virus the Medical Superintendent stated that they have put precautionary measures in place and their medical personnel are using masks, they have introduced hand washing as well as putting other mechanisms intact.
The engagement was climaxed with a media tour of the wards where the patients are undergoing treatment.