Coming back to live and work in Sierra Leone has been an absolute dream. Working for King’s with such amazing people is both inspiring and exciting.
Prior to becoming KSLP’s country director, I was living and working in Tanzania as the CEO for the College of Surgeons for East and Central South Africa (COSECSA). My career has always straddled the space between community and service delivery in Health. So coming back to work with Connaught as the hospital is trying to get back on its feet after an immense challenge is the opportunity of a lifetime.
My vision for King’s is to continue to work in meaningful partnership with Connaught, COMAHS and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation working shoulder to shoulder to improve health systems and patient outcomes in Sierra Leone. It’s important to recognize that we can only do this through building capacity of individuals and strengthening the institutions that matter to them.
I started volunteering with KSLP in 2013 and since then I have been working across all faculties of the College of Medicine & Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), which provides training for medical, nursing and pharmacy students. As the Education Manager, my role is to provide support for curriculum development, faculty development and improvements in teaching facilities. I also input into our ongoing work to strengthen the pharmacy department at Connaught Hospital.
I was previously working with the University of Manchester and Central Manchester University Hospitals to provide training for pharmacists, nurses and doctors at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Since gaining my pharmacy degree, I have completed postgraduate qualifications in clinical pharmacy and clinical education. I have previously worked at Ola During Children’s Hospital in Freetown with the Welbodi Partnership.
The enthusiasm of the students I work with and the opportunities I have to collaborate with my Sierra Leonean colleagues are what motivates me to stay and keep going!
Bridget Kiely, Clinical Manager
I am excited about my role as clinical manager at King’s Sierra Leone Partnership. I have had a long interest in global health, developed through voluntary work in South Africa, a Diploma in Tropical Medicine in Peru and a Master’s in Public Health. After GP training, I was a Darzi Fellow in Clinical Leadership working with Health Education South London on health workforce planning and development.
My first trip to Sierra Leone was last January when I was part of the NHS response to the Ebola crisis. When the role of clinical manager with KSLP in Connaught hospital came up, I saw the opportunity to return to Sierra Leone longer term and put my skills into practice as part of the effort to rebuild the health system in the wake of the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
I am lucky to work with a fantastic team of highly motivated and energetic clinicians. I support the team and ensure we think about partnership in everything we do. It is great to see people develop their skills in leadership, quality improvement and teamwork while working side by side with their Sierra Leone colleagues. An important part of my job is to make sure our experiences on the ground are translated into systems and policies that will strengthen the health system and improve health outcomes for Sierra Leoneans. It is a challenge, but with a great team and partners here I believe we can do it.
Philippa Tetlow, Grants and Reporting Manager
It’s an exciting time to be joining KSLP. Since starting as the Grants and Reporting Manager in 2015, my work has involved everything from developing new program ideas and concept notes to reviewing and evaluating our on-going programs. I’m also responsible for Freetown Communications, so I proudly share with everyone the great work KSLP staff are doing to support our partners at Connaught and COMAHS.
Before I came to work at KSLP, I was a programme and policy officer at the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and a donor/government liaison officer with the Ministry of Education and Sports in Lao PDR. Since coming to work at KSLP I’ve been lucky enough to be able to contribute the skills I’ve gained working in development and government and learn more about the health sector and its needs. Best of all, Sierra Leone is a wonderful place to live and work. I am continually inspired by the motivation of my friends and colleagues here.
Stephen Hindle, Operations Manager
My first four months as Operations Manager for KSLP have been fascinating. My role is about managing the operations team to ensure that the systems here, such as the finance, HR and procurement, run smoothly and effectively. It’s a great role that gives real oversight into all the amazing work that the KSLP team are doing, and I work with some truly inspiring clinicians.
Before joining KSLP I worked as a programme lead for Macmillan Cancer Support, leading the UK’s National Cancer Survivorship programme in partnership with NHS England. It’s been fascinating seeing the similarities and differences between large scale health system initiatives in the UK and Sierra Leone.
It is great working at KSLP, and the experience also gives me the opportunity to reflect on and implement the learning from my recent MSc in Development Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. I look forward to seeing the progress of our work with Sierra Leonean partners to strengthen the health system. It seems that almost every week there’s exciting news from one of our team about their work. I particularly like understanding the challenges and working with others to overcome them.
Working as KSLP Research Manager, I am responsible for engaging with local partners to build and sustain research capacity in Sierra Leone’s health system. I also promote the importance of research as a main pillar of KSLP’s approach to sustainable co-development.
Prior to working with KSLP I gained research experience through completing a masters in public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, after which I worked in both clinical and academic research in the UK National Health Service and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Since joining KSLP I am constantly humbled by local hospital staff and volunteers who are very passionate about their work. It makes me feel both privileged and honoured to be part of KSLP.
Marta Lado, Infectious Diseases Coordinator
Before joining the KSLP team in March 2014 as Volunteer Clinical Lead, I worked for ten years as a clinician in Internal Medicine and Infectious diseases in different environments: Oncology, Internal Medicine, A&E and Infectious diseases Departments in the Spanish Public Health Care System.
I have been involved in several medical projects with different NGOs in rural India, Cameroon and Tanzania focused mainly on the sustainable establishment of health ssytems. I have also worked extensively in in Infectious diseases and obtained my Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in East Africa (Tanzania and Uganda) in 2012 through the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Ebola caught us in the middle of a health system strengthening project we were working on at Connaught hospital. Without hesitation I decided to stay on to work with the local health care workers during those hard months. The outbreak times were very tough but they have created an amazing environment of work and true bonds with the Sierra Leonean colleagues that has given meaning to the real partnership between KSLP and Connaught.
Despite all the bad moments and sad experiences during the Ebola outbreak, I would not change any decisions I made. The intensity of the human relationships between the KSLP team and the rest of the hospital became stronger and much more solid because of it.
Before joining KSLP, I worked for more than fifteen years as a mental health nurse in The Netherlands. Since completing my Masters in Advanced Nursing Practice in Mental Health in 2010, I have focused on community mental health. Increasing access to health services and ensuring that patients and families get the best possible care, as close to home as possible, has been my biggest aim during my professional career as a Nurse Practitioner in Mental Health.
My long-held desire to work in international development lead me to Kings Sierra Leone Partnership. Currently, only an estimated 2% of people with mental disorders have access to care, resulting in a treatment gap of 98%. With only one retired psychiatrist in the country and twenty recently trained mental health nurses, for a population of over six million people, there is a lot that needs to be done.
As a mental health supervisor, I work closely with the twenty mental health nurses deployed throughout the country. By sharing knowledge and skills and building self-confidence, we aim to improve the quality of service delivery. We also support their efforts to raise awareness and reduce stigma about mental health, which ultimately increases access to care. Learning from the nurses’ culture, creativity and determination enables me to improve my own nursing skills.
I’m confident Sierra Leone is on the right track improving the quality and accessibility of mental health care services and I am thankful for Kings and all our local partners for working collaboratively on these goals, because like the Ministry of Health & Sanitation in Sierra Leone says; “There is no health without mental health”.
Anna Walder, Mental Health Coordinator
I joined KSLP as the Mental Health Coordinator in August 2015 after finishing my core psychiatric training in East London. My interest in working abroad began when I volunteered in Ghana before University and I found more opportunities to do so during my medical degree. I therefore wanted to use my time out of training to gain more experience in global mental health. I was incredibly excited to join KSLP in a role that is so varied and addresses teaching, training, clinical work, policy, strategy and research.
I am passionate about mental health and the highlight of working in Sierra Leone has been collaborating with our local partners. It’s such an exciting time to be working alongside enthusiastic people who are dedicated to strengthening and integrating the mental health system.
Joining the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership Team is quite an honour. My role as Laboratory Coordinator involves strengthening the laboratory systems and capacity building through training and mentorship. For me to join in January was perfect timing, as the laboratories in Sierra Leone are getting some much needed support (and refurbishment).
I previously worked in Kenya with the Kenya Aids Control Project as a researcher in a clinical study and laboratory set-up, being mainly involved in HIV, STIs and Malaria research, as well as training, mentoring and capacity building of laboratories.
This is my first trip to Sierra Leone, and I am lucky to be part of an energetic, highly focused, professional and closely knit team. Sierra Leone is a lovely country with lovely people and I look forward to a successful time working in Connaught Hospital Laboratories.
Sullay Gbla, WASH Field Supervisor
My name is Sullay Gbla and I was born in Lunsar Town, Mrampa Chiefdom, Port Loko district, Sierra Leone. I attended the Sierra Leone Muslim Brotherhood Primary School from 1996 to 2002, St. Murialdo Secondary School Lunsar from 2002 to 2008 and the University Of Sierra Leone, Fourah Bay College from 2008 to 2013 where I studied Civil Engineering. Before joining KSLP, I worked with Oxfam as a Public Health Engineer in Port Loko District and with Bomkam Construction Company. I live with my Mum and two brothers in the East-side of Freetown, Wellington.
I am presently working for Kings Sierra Leone Partnership as a WASH Field Supervisor where I ensure that the quality of labour, materials, designs, safety, workmanship provided by Contractors are as specified. I also make sure that there is a conducive working environment between the Hospital’s management and contractors.
I like it here with Kings because there are great interpersonal skills within the team; you are encouraged to speak your mind and how you feel about things and there is so much room for career improvement.
Natalie Mounter, IPC Nurse Mentor
I joined KSLP in October 2014 as an Ebola volunteer, working as a nurse in the Ebola Holding Unit at Connaught Hospital. I now work alongside Connaught’s local Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Focal Person as a mentor and IPC specialist.
Before joining KSLP, I had been working as a senior nurse on an Isolation Ward in the UK and have a background in IPC. After witnessing the epidemic first hand, it’s been extremely satisfying to continue working at Connaught and to be involved in making the hospital generally safer for both patients and staff.
Before the epidemic, basic IPC practices were not followed and there was no IPC training for staff. Since the start of the project, we have been able to conduct thorough IPC training for all 800 workers at the facility and to establish a fully functioning IPC system within the hospital.
Being part of such a big national project, seeing IPC be given such importance and educating and empowering the staff to make their work place safer has been an extremely rewarding experience.
It has been a long-standing goal for me to work in global health and contribute to health system development. Working with KSLP has enabled this ambition to become a reality. It has been immensely rewarding working in partnership with hospital staff and it is a privilege to work with such a motivated team of people.
Prior to joining KSLP, I was working as an Emergency physician in the UK having completed specialist training in Emergency Medicine and Intensive Care. I recently finished studying for a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene which set the scene nicely for working in Sierra Leone.
It is an exciting time to be working in Emergency Medicine in Sierra Leone. With a new department in the process of construction and a pre-hospital care system potentially in the pipeline, it provides a great opportunity to help develop a system which can have a significant impact on the outcomes of acutely ill patients in the short and long term.
I graduated from Nottingham Medical School in 2004 and after many years exploring different countries and specialities, I finally decided on Anaesthetics/Intensive Care Medicine. I’d always been interested in Global Health, but hadn’t made any plans to return to Africa until the opportunity arose to join the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership. I couldn’t resist!
I chose to work with KSLP because it offered a unique opportunity to support the development of intensive care in a low income country that has no post-graduate training and less than 5 anaesthetic doctors in country. The KSLP approach focuses on strengthening the health system and supporting local partners rather than your own skill progression. That being said, I am getting more teaching, management, quality improvement, and research opportunities than I thought possible.
One of my first tasks as Critical Care Coordinator was to support the ICU to develop the first fully functioning oxygen factor in the country. The results have been tremendous. In the last three months since we got the first piped oxygen in the country, we’ve seen mortality drop by 30%. It is incredible to work in a system where simple changes can produce such a drastic improvement in outcomes.
Ibby Kabia, Logistics and Communications Assistant
My work with KSLP began in September 2014 when I received a call from a volunteer asking me to help buy scrubs for the Ebola Isolation Unit. I was very excited to work with KSLP because I had always admired their work. Ever since that call, I have helped coordinate team logistics.
Before I started working with KSLP I was an administrative assistant, security guard, house manager, cameraman, and all-around fixer for the Freetown Fashpack Running Club. When the Ebola outbreak began, I volunteered for the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society doing Community Sensitization. I completed my Senior Secondary School Studies in Freetown and my aim now is to study at University level.
KSLP is amazing organisation to work with. I have gained a lot of experience working with the international staff; they always make room for anyone ready to learn, work, and collaborate! KSLP’s dedication to partnership working is a great approach to supporting health systems, and I look forward to continuing to improve my skills by working with them. I’m proud to also have added Communications Assistant to my duties; the team knows to call on me to take the best photos of our work!
Umaru Senessie, Office Manager
I was born in Sierra Leone’s Kono District. I had a very different childhood to my colleagues because I started working in the diamond mines during primary school. Then I started volunteering at health clinics and I became a child health advocate. After this experience, I was lucky enough to get my first job with IRC first as a National Mortality Survey Manager in October to November 2009 and then as the Mobile Vital Events Manager in 2010 to 2012.
I Joined KSLP in November 2014. During the Ebola outbreak, I felt that I had a part to play for my country especially in such crisis. What motivates me most at King’s is working with people of such great humanity.
Now I work with King’s to keep the office running smoothly, managing everything from transport to day-to-day finances and coordinating the operations team. I am hoping to learn more about King’s so that I can do more to help my country in the near future.
Unless otherwise specified, these images were taken by Ibby Kabia and Philippa Tetlow. Photo © KSLP 2016.