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Feature Save the Children BMJ Christmas Appeal

Free healthcare in Sierra Leone

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 21 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c7268
  1. Kimberly S Johnson, journalist
  1. 1Freetown, Sierra Leone
  1. kimberlysj{at}

For this year’s BMJ Christmas appeal we are working with Save the Children to raise £30 000 to help children and mothers in some of the world’s poorest regions. Money raised will be invested in projects such as the one described here in Sierra Leone by Kimberly S Johnson

A harness on a scale that resembles a meat hook suspends a baby in mid-air. Other babies cry as mothers make feeble attempts to console them while talking to nurses and other staff. Pregnant women study bright pink cards used to track their progress at each check-up.

In a nearby room, a mother lies motionless and slightly dazed on a dirty, worn, uncovered hospital bed as her baby—a few hours old and very pale—sleeps deeply, wrapped in traditional cloth on a battered table.

It’s a bustling scene at the Kroo Bay Health Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone, one of the government backed health centres offering free services for children under 5 years and pregnant or breastfeeding women under the healthcare programme that began in April. Women and young children stream in all day, seeking treatment …

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