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Aid, aid everywhere but still not a drop in the sink

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 16 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:a3136
  1. Helena Watson, foundation year 2, paediatrics, Luton and Dunstable Hospital
  1. helenawatson85{at}

    During my time at the government run Ola During Children’s Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the empty beds were the most bleak and heartbreaking sight of all. It was then that the scale of support this hospital needed hit me. I had been expecting the patients to be camping outside the hospital, as I had seen elsewhere in Africa. In a country where one in four children die before the age of 5 years, the worst child mortality rate in the world, there should be no quiet spells.

    A million people live within walking distance of the hospital, but parents just cannot afford to pay for treatment and tests. There may also be a lack of faith in the quality of care provided there. Would you bring your child to a hospital with no running water, sporadic electricity supply, no oxygen, and staff morale ranging from bitter to apathetic? The staff are so …

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