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22 April 2021: Better Lives FoundationAn African technician working in a small laboratory

Devi Patel of the Better Lives Foundation, together with her husband Raj, joined us online today to update us on the progress at Yonibani Hospital in Sierra Leone, which we have supported.

The funds we raised, together with a Global Grant from Rotary International, paid for a new pathology laboratory at the hospital. This particular project was recommended to the hospital by our members Dr Chuda Karki and Dr Indu Tiwari, who thought it would make the greatest difference to the hospital’s work.

It has indeed made a great difference. Yonibani is now a referral hospital for the surrounding 39 government “Peripheral Health Units”. Patients no longer have to travel 47 km for tests. All testing is free and conditions can be analysed and treatment offered without delay. The hospital is also able to offer a Lab Technicians Training Programme, which has already produced its first qualified technicians.

The hospital estimates that between February 2020 and February 2021 the laboratory benefited 5,787 people. The local incidence of malaria and TB has dropped considerably and sexually transmitted infections are down by 20%.

The hospital has also started a rice-farming project, utilising a field opposite the hospital entrance. The farm workers not only grow the rice, they harvest it, thresh it, and put it into a large sacks ready for distribution.

The Better Lives Foundation itself has been active during the pandemic helping people in this country. Among other things, it has provided food parcels for some 400 children and their families, supported those campaigning against domestic abuse and cooked and distributed some 3,000 cookies for NHS staff.