Page last updated at 23:43 GMT, Sunday, 20 April 2008 00:43 UK

Diary: Sierra Leone slum medic

A mother and child attend a malnutrition screening at Kroo Bay clinic

Medical staff at a clinic in the coastal slum of Kroo Bay, in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, have been keeping a diary of their working lives for the BBC News website.

Here, Adama Gondor, who runs the clinic, describes a sad case of severe malnutrition and an unnecessary death.

It has been really busy as we have started the distribution of a corn-soya blend for malnourished children.

A child being screened for malnutrition at Kroo Bay clinic
Children are assessed by their height, weight and arm circumference

So mothers have been bringing their children under the age of five for screening: we measure their height, their weight and the circumference of their arm.

If they fall below 80% of the minimum weight for their age, we put them on the feeding programme.

It has meant that all of a sudden we are seeing a lot of sick children, who have never before come for treatment.

The other day a small boy called Mukha, who is about four, was brought in.

He was very malnourished, but he also had a fractured leg.

His mother had taken him to traditional healer for treatment and she has been applying herbs.

The family were very upset and so was I - and angry too

The leg has set wrongly and has swollen so he can't even walk and one leg is much shorter.

The only way to fix it now would be to go to the hospital and have his leg in cast for months.

But the family is not willing to take him, they have no money.

We have put him on the feeding programme, but really he needs treatment we cannot provide.


Earlier in the day, a mother and father rushed in with a small baby girl called Marion, she seemed lifeless in their arms.

View of Kroo Bay

When I examined her she had no pulse, no heartbeat and she was not breathing; the child was dead.

The family were very upset and so was I - and angry too.

Children die every day in this community because the parents do not bring them to the clinic.

The family said they had been going to a private small clinic, but the medicines hadn't worked.

The girl had been sick for two months with anaemia and severe malnutrition.

They only came to us when it was too late after she had collapsed.

We sympathised with the parents and said in future they must always bring sick children here first.

I have not yet started to receive my salary

"This is your clinic, and we are always here for you," we said.

Children are too small to explain what is happening; people should bring them to the clinic fast.

I am also very stressed at the moment about my own housing situation.

I have only been in Freetown five months and have been staying with friends.

But they have been asked to leave the property and by the end of the month I will be homeless.

I have not yet started to receive my salary and I am not sure when it will be processed, so I need to find somewhere cheap.

But so far I have found nothing and I am so worried I cannot sleep at night.

The Kroo Bay clinic staff
The Kroo Bay clinic staff are keeping a joint diary

Save the Children has launched an interactive website where Kroo Bay residents answer questions about their lives. Visitors will be able to access 360-degree images of the site, and catch up with the latest news from the slum through regular "webisodes".

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