Many friends and family have kindly asked me how they can help contribute to improve and develop healthcare here in Segbwema. Now I have an answer – identified together with the hardworking hospital staff here! We would be so grateful for any donations towards an oxygen concentrator for the children’s ward – a bit more information is below…
In UK hospitals we take oxygen for granted for any unwell patient with breathing difficulties. Oxygen is piped through the walls (like water) to every bed. Each patient has a new, clean, single-use disposable mask which is attached to the oxygen pipe, providing immediate oxygen whenever needed. It is such a basic medical intervention that all UK medical professionals and patients take it for granted.
Here is a little different. Like many less economically developed countries, oxygen provision in hospitals is poor. There is no piped oxygen in any hospital in Sierra Leone including the main referral hospital and only Intensive Care Unit in the country. One method of providing oxygen is pressurised oxygen cylinders but these are expensive, quickly run out and are difficult to refill as we are 400km away from the only refill plant. A better system is to use an oxygen concentrator. This needs a reliable source of electricity which we now have courtesy of the wonderful new EU funded post-Ebola development of a large solar panel farm and battery storage facility which provides 24 hour electricity for the wards.
The machine takes in atmospheric air (free unlimited supply!) with an oxygen concentration of 21% and uses electricity (free unlimited supply via the sun and panels) to produce an output of 8L/min of 95% oxygen which is delivered by tubing to the patient. We have found an excellent company who supply durable machines specifically for use in tropical climates, and are specialists in supplying clients from less economically developed countries by providing ongoing support by phone/email for the entire lifespan of the machine. Their website is http://www.diamedica.co.uk/english/product_details.cfm?id=263
The greatest need for oxygen here is on the children’s ward. Sierra Leone has the 2nd worst child mortality rate in the world (from every 1000 live births, 161 die before aged 5 years). A large number of these deaths are due to acute respiratory infections, some of which would be prevented by oxygen therapy. From auditing our hospital admissions Jan-May 2016 4 out of 10 children admitted with severe breathing difficulties die. Of course there are many other factors contributing, but looking at published studies in similar settings to here – oxygen therapy reduces these deaths by one third.
Each child requires oxygen supplied at 2-3L/min and the machine we propose to get can supply 8L/min. The company supply a splitter device so that several children can be treated at the same time. Below is a sketch illustrating this plan.
Although the machine will last a long time and has a free and plentiful supply of electricity and atmospheric air, the initial cost is expensive. Together with the charity Friends of Nixon (FoN) we need to raise a total of £3000 to cover the cost of the machine, tubing/masks, and shipping/customs. We would all be so grateful for anything you can donate.
To donate online follow this link
Or post a cheque payable to ‘Friends of Nixon Memorial Hospital’ with the completed giftaid form (FoN Donation Form) to the charity treasurer at
Mr Robert Dixon (FoN)
11a Denbigh Road
Thank you all so much for your support. This machine will provide much needed oxygen and save many lives in the years to come.