Palliative Care in Sierra Leone (PCSL) is a fundraising UK based charity supporting both patient care and health professional education. The charity changed its name in 2021 from “UK Friends of the Shepherd’s Hospice” to “PCSL” in order to broaden access to palliative care in Sierra Leone. The aim of the charity is to fund the provision of sustainable palliative care in a country which has long struggled with some of the world’s worst health outcomes. The Government of Sierra Leone introduced Free Healthcare for pregnant and lactating mothers and children under five. Extreme poverty prevents most families from accessing health care.

At present the charity supports 2 projects:

The Shepherd’s Hospice (TSH), a Non-Governmental Organisation in MacDonald Village, near Waterloo. The Shepherd’s Hospice was established in 1994 in Allen Town and moved to its current peaceful, rural site, as a purpose-built facility with inpatient, outpatient and home-based care services in 2016. At TSH the funds are used for health professional salaries and to support inpatient and outpatient care, as well as some medication. Gabriel Madiye is the Director of TSH.

The Palliative Care Unit (PCU) at Connaught Hospital, Freetown. The Hospital was opened in 1912 by the Duke of Connaught and is part of the University of Sierra Leone Teaching Hospitals Complex. It is the principal adult referral hospital in Sierra Leone. The PCU was started in 2018, to provide pain relief and compassionate, holistic care for patients who cannot be cured. They are referred from all departments in Connaught and the nearby Ola During Children’s Hospital. As it approaches 1,000 patients referred, 25% are under 18 years old and nearly 30% are women with advanced breast cancer.

The PCU also provides palliative care teaching to healthcare professionals and students, and advocates for the availability of strong painkillers and a nationwide, integrated palliative care service in the government sector. Funds are used to supplement local health professional salaries; for medicines, dressing materials and other needs of patients; for home visit costs; and for training both in Freetown and other regions of Sierra Leone. Dr Mary Bunn, Dr Melvina Thompson and Nursing Officer Patience Sankoh lead the PCU.

palliative care teaching
Palliative Care Team Teaching at The Connaught Hospital
Patient examination
Patient examination at TSH

The introduction of palliative care is challenging in Sierra Leone as is demonstrated in some of the case studies in Inspiring Stories.

In the past PCSL has also funded some infrastructure projects, such as funding for a rainwater collection and storage facility at TSH in MacDonald Village when a mains water supply was unavailable.

Monitoring visits are carried out to oversee use of funds and development of the work of TSH and PCU. Quarterly reports from TSH and PCU inform the trustees of the use of the funds raised.

Read more about how UKFTSH/PCSL started.

Read Mark Doyle’s (BBC International Development Correspondent) report about health care in Sierra Leone, including the work of The Shepherd’s Hospice. (3 Feb 2011)