By Amin Kef Sesay
For many years running, Sierra Leone’s Health System had a serious vacuum as the country was lacking a modernized Dialysis Treatment Center meaning that individuals who were diagnosed with renal failure had to go through the hassle of having to incur the expenses of travelling to Ghana and other countries with good health systems in order to access professional treatment.
Invariably, what that meant was that it was only rich people that could access qualitative treatment abroad and the poor had to bear the brunt of living their lives on tenterhooks, only surviving by the grace of the Almighty God.
Fortunately, there was a U-turn to this abysmal situation when on the 5th of August 2016, the Alhaji Umaru Sillah Dialysis Center was established which later culminated into the Shifaa and Dialysis Center (SD&C) with Dalanda Bah as the Manager and Director of Administration. Dalanda’s father, Alhaji Umaru Sillah, was the Proprietor of the original Center and he was the only patient treated there.
The initiative behind the establishment of the Shifaa Dialysis Center in this country was borne out of her father’s diagnosis with an End Stage Renal failure in October of 2013. Because her father could not access medical treatment in Sierra Leone there was no option but for him to be flown out to the United States of America at age 72 where he had to learn how to live life making sure he gets his dialysis treatment three times a week in a country that he was not familiar with. It meant he had to adapt to a culture that was very different from his and more importantly leave family, businesses, and many other responsibilities behind. It was inevitable that he missed home tremendously.
With time, her father established a good relationship with the Proprietor of a Dialysis Center in Conakry. His name is Professor Lamine Kaba, a man who established an unbeatable empire of kidney specialists including Nephrologists, dialysis nurses and dialysis technicians.
Prof. Kaba’s relationship with her father led to an agreement. The Professor provided her father with a team of dialysis professionals every month to care for him which she saw as a true blessing. After a very long stay in the United States, her parents were on their way back home and they ordered two dialysis machines. All the machines and systems were in place with the help of the Guinean team and supportive family members.
As at present the functioning Center in Freetown has six machines.
This was just a brief background as to how the Shifaa and Dialysis Center originated!
Situated on 8 Campbell Street in Freetown, the Dialysis Center is very easily accessible to patients of any physical condition and ambulances in case of an emergency and more importantly they are neighbors with pharmacies, laboratories, clinics and their clinicians are also a short distance away from the location.
As a privately owned and managed Dialysis Center in Sierra Leone, the entity aims to offer dialysis treatment to those who have been diagnosed with Renal Diseases thereby facilitating patients’ need for good quality of life and the enhancement of their wellbeing.
In terms of the Center’s philosophy and vision, Management of S&DC are striving their best to make sure that no dialysis patient goes untreated.
According to Dalanda Bah, “We pride ourselves in the importance of living life peacefully and with integrity. We also promote education of the risks of Renal Disease in order to prevent the diagnosis of such predicament. As for those who come to us with this diagnosis, the goal is to treat and educate them to improve their quality of life, counsel them and their caregivers to stay positive and to cope with their new way of life and stand by them as their means of support. We are working hard to make this center a safe haven for those patients that need it the most. We are working diligently to aid those who cannot afford their treatments to have financial support to pay for their treatments and all other incentives at our center.”
The Shifaa and Dialysis Center has a team of competent and specialized medical staff comprising a Certified Nephrologist, General Physician Consultant, Dialysis Nurses, Dialysis Technicians and nurses who deliver onsite education and counseling on nutrition, dialysis and renal disease. These are professionals in their own rights.
Dr. Komrabai Kanu, a highly professional Sierra Leonean doctor, examines patients regularly and plays a supervisory role over the team of medics in accordance with the laws of Sierra Leone concerning medical practitioners working in the country. He mentors, counsel, guides, corrects and participates in daily services professionally and with courtesy. His immense wisdom is very impressive.
This important medical entity has nephrologists that always re-evaluate patients before commencing dialysis. In order to do so professionally, they demand that the referring physician sends a patient with a referral letter containing the following: – Patients Medical History including all comorbidities, Presenting Complaints and Clinical Findings – Results of laboratory and imaging examinations (X-rays, Ultra sounds etc.) – Current treatments including medications the patient is taking.
It is important to note that the Center demands a strict compliance on this matter but in the absence of a “referral letter”, the patient’s complete hospital file will be adequate and any patient who fails to meet these requirements will not be accepted for dialysis at the Center.
As a matter of fact, the Center is considered as a One-Stop Renal Center in Sierra Leone as it provides quality care for all dialysis patients at every level of their disease. The Center is capable of treating renal patients requiring dialysis at any stage of their disease. It also provides the following services: Consultation for Renal patients, Hemodialysis Treatment, Temporary and Permanent (Tunnelized) catheter insertion, referral to other specialists as necessary, dialysis education for patients and their families. Other services provided include, Diet Counselling, Psychological and Coping advice, Catheter Dressing change for those who need it on the days that they do not have a dialysis treatment.
There are plans to commence onsite healthy food services for clients and their families to ensure that they are having a healthy and balanced diet.
In respect of fees and daily schedule, individuals are required to contact the Center’s Administration for payment information and fees.
One can safely conclude that indeed Sierra Leoneans can now breathe a sigh of relief because the hassle of having to travel overseas with huge financial expenses involved to access dialysis treatment is now a thing of the past as Shifaa and Dialysis Center is now here offering highly professional treatments.
Indeed, S&DC is a dialysis center for all, both rich and poor as it is well established that it prides itself in education, quality dialysis treatment and counselling, enhancing the basics of life and facilitating the overall wellbeing of dialysis patients.
“We plan to do so by facilitating workshops and organizing free health screenings onsite and the services we provide as of now are Hemodialysis for patients in Acute and Chronic renal failure. In addition, we also provide counselling and education to all patients and their family members. As of the first week of February 2019, S&DC was equipped to accommodate up to fifteen (15) hemodialysis patients daily,” Dalanda Bah intimated.
Shifaa and Dialysis Centre is opened between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday. On Sundays and after hours, they are open for emergencies only. Shifaa Dialysis Centre is calling on all Sierra Leoneans on Dialysis to come and visit their facility.