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Sierra Leone is a small country on the west coast of Africa. With a population of about 6 million people (WHO, 2013) it occupies an area of 72,000 sq. KM. Ten years of civil war in 1990-2001 left a devastating effect that is still evident in the health system. The gross national income per capita is 1, 750 (2013). Life expectancy is 45 years for females and 46 years for males (2012). According to UNICEF, under-five mortality is amongst the highest in the world. The ministry of Health and sanitation lacks the financial resources and infrastructure to deliver adequate health services to the population.
WHO determined that the health status of the Sierra Leone population is one of the worst in the world!
The 2014 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak was the largest in history, affecting multiple countries across West Africa, Europe, and the United States. Sierra Leone was among the predominant three nations affected, alongside Guinea and Liberia. As of February10, 2015, there were 9,268 reported deaths from Ebola with Sierra Leone reporting 3,408 deaths. However, little focus has been paid to the deteriorating healthcare in these already fragile West African states.
In light of this gruesome reality, a group of Sierra Leonean health professionals in the United States met on October 12, 2014 to form an organization that would focus on and respond as a body to issues affecting health care in Sierra Leone. Currently, there is no known comprehensive organization specific to these issues despite the thousands of health workers living in the United Sates. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the latest census or survey results obtained in 2011 reported the pool of Sierra Leoneans officially living in the United Kingdom identified by country of birth was approximately 23,500. In the United States the number of Sierra Leoneans was estimated at 34,000.
The Association of Sierra Leonean Health Professionals in the US (TASHPUS) was formed. The purpose of the organization is to harness the skills of the thousands of Sierra Leonean health workers living in the United States to support sierra Leone’s health sector through the transfer of knowledge, skills and sharing of professional experience; provide a structure for members to collaborate, share best practices, and coordinate information and services and, to provide accessible, efficient and reliable information and resources for the improvement of healthcare in Sierra Leone.