We provide scholarships to qualified health care workers in Sierra Leone enabling them to join a surgical and obstetrics training program.
The Wouter Nolet Scholarship Fund (WNSF) supports the health care system in Sierra Leone by providing scholarships to financially disadvantaged students enabling them to undertake the Surgical Training Program (STP) of CapaCare.
To contribute to the improvement of the health care system in Sierra Leone by:
- Providing scholarships to pre-selected health care workers, who do not have sufficient financial means to follow the CapaCare STP training to become assistant surgeon or obstetrician.
- Assisting graduates from the STP training to be employed into the (government) hospitals.
- Supporting Outreach projects that focus on prevention campaigns and diagnostic facilities to build capacity and make health care accessible for people in rural areas.
Students, following the STP program, must provide for their own personal costs. For some students, who have employment contracts in government hospitals (pin-coded), bearing their own expenses will not be a problem. However, others who are not employed by the government (non-pin coded) will not be able to participate in the STP program without outside financial support.
The WNSF aims to cover the personal costs of these students, including housing, food, study materials, tablet and travel. The amount of scholarship is valued at € 2,000 per year. The scholarship applies to the entire period of 3 years. Allowances will be paid in semi-annual parts of € 1,000 directly to the student.
The sponsored student has to account for his/her achievements by regularly reporting back to WNSF about his/her study results.
A country that needs help
Sierra Leone is positioned 182 out of the 189 countries on the Human Development Index ranking. More than half of the population lives under the poverty-line, with large and increasing inequality.
The country has been severely affected by civil war (1991-2001) and more recently by the Ebola outbreak (2014-2016).
Both previously mentioned calamities had devastating impacts on the condition of the health care sector. Sierra Leone has only 245 doctors for a population of 7.5 million inhabitants. That amounts to 0.033 per 1000 inhabitants. In comparison, Holland has 3.3 doctors per 1000 inhabitants. That is 100 times as many.
CapaCare is a Norwegian humanitarian, non-profit organization, dedicated to medical education and training in developing countries. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), CapaCare started a Surgical Training Program (STP) in 2011 with the goal of supporting the hospitals in rural areas in Sierra Leone.
We established a scholarship Fund to support students of the STP program with living and study-related costs (housing, food, study material, computer, travel etc.). While some students are on the government payroll (pin-coded) other students have to cover these costs themselves, and are therefore prevented from joining the STP program if they don’t have savings or family support. It is a core aim for the WNSF to enable skilled students from low-income families to enroll in the STP program and thereby reduce the existing inequalities.
We hope this will stimulate a new group of applicants who currently do not have access to the STP training. Evidence shows that students from poor, hard-to-reach areas are more likely to return and serve these areas after graduation. This is crucial as many health professionals prefer to work in the urban areas and therefore employing and more importantly retaining surgical capacity in rural areas are difficult. It is therefore our intention to give preference to students from areas with the highest health needs.
The following 2 students were selected in October 2021 and granted a scholarship for the 3-year STP training. WNSF will get the first feedback of their study results in March 2022.
Sheka Mohammed Kamara
Current qualification: Community Health Officer (CHO)
Current place of work: MSF Hangha Hospital
Nominated by hospital: Magburaka Govern. Hospital
An interview with Sheka can be found here.
Abdulai Moriba Lahun
Current qualification: Clinical Officer (CO)
Current place of work: MSF Hangha Hospital
Nominated by hospital: MSF Hangha Hospital
An interview with Abdulai can be found here.
Abibatu Bangura was born in Freetown. Together with her husband and 2 children she has lived in Makeni for the last 5 years. She is a ‘state registered nurse’ and has worked as a midwife in government hospitals.
Working at the hospital she observed the capacity of the STP’s. They performed cesarean sections independently and saved many lives of mothers and their children. That became her most important motivation to apply for the STP training.