GENEVA, Switzerland, January 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Sierra Leonean healthcare professionals in the UK are keen to volunteer for short term assignments to fill acute healthcare staffing shortages in their country of origin.
The finding emerged from a report: Mapping of Sierra Leonean Health Professionals in the United Kingdom, commissioned by IOM and produced by the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD).
Report co-authors Moses Okech and Denise Awoonor-Renner interviewed over 100 Sierra Leonean healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, midwives, researchers, psychiatrists and health policy advisers.
The report provides an overview of their location, educational, professional and employment profiles, and explores the extent of diaspora engagement from the UK. It also lays out some of the issues and challenges that need to be addressed to better harness Sierra Leonean healthcare diaspora skills.
“What comes out strongly is that Sierra Leonean healthcare professionals are able, willing and ready to give to their country of origin. The policy framework and structures here (in the UK) and in Sierra Leone need to be improved to harness this passion and enthusiasm,” says Denise Awoonor-Renner.
The report is the outcome of a year-long project by IOM exploring how acute human resources shortages in Sierra Leone’s healthcare system might be addressed through diaspora knowledge and skills transfer.
“The Sierra Leonean government recognizes the important role that Sierra Leonean health professionals in the diaspora can play in improving healthcare in Sierra Leone. This report outlines some of the challenges and barriers that they face and suggests ways to overcome them,” said IOM Chief of Mission in the UK Clarissa Azkoul.
Similar mapping exercises have also been undertaken in the US, Canada and Germany.