Little or no care for the elderly in Sierra Leone, shouldn’t they get free healthcare too?

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The past week has been incredibly trying and as thankful as i am that its over it certainly taught me alot about myself. On Tuesday, my 73 yr old granny was hospitalized for an urgent blood transfusion and i sat there watching her scream as the nurse struggled to find her vein to insert the needle i felt my heart break into tiny little peices. I had to cry on the inside cause i did not want her to be scared.

I walked out to the nurses station to find out when the transfusion was gonna happen and then i learned the hospital didn’t have a blood bank and that they had to go find blood at Caunaught Government Hospital. The way it works; a patient has to get their relatives to donate blood and if its not a match then their blood will be traded at the blood bank at Caunaught Hospital for a match. I found the whole process disturbing.

The doctor was very interesting and seemed upset with me because i asked him questions about my granny’s care. He refused to look at me or direct his responses to me. Finally when i asked him when the last blood transfusion was to be done. He asked me why i wanted to know. I must say i wasn’t expecting that kind of response. Why would i want to know about my granny’s health? Eventually he answered with the usual “i am a dr and u dont understand how these things work” tone. I realized that maybe what he heard from my accent wasn’t so much a question rather he may have felt that i was questioning his knowledge. He must have been one of those”you people from the diaspora think u know everything” kind of guy. I really just wanted to know so that i would have some peace of mind. In the end my granny scolded me for asking questions of the doctor even though i was asking things she wanted to know. Sometimes you just cant win…

I waited impatiently all day wondering if indeed a match would be found and at about 8pm i was informed that a match had been found and i made it back to the hospital in time to watch her receive the first of three pints of blood.

I cant imagine anyone i care for more than my granny and it was a humbling experience to watch her and to be absolutely incapable of helping her. I thought of pension schemes, health insurance, and care for the elderly, all of which we have to provide privately for my granny in Sierra Leone. Just like children in our society we is neglect the elderly, only there is no Millennium Development Goal indicator that relates to older people so i doubt there will be any improvement in this area any time soon. Hence why i am not surprised free health care recently announced my prezzo did not include the elderly.

For most of her adult life my grand mother who is trained as a seamstress engaged in all kinds of commerce from operating Karams bar in town before i was born, to selling bread, palm oil, chickens, and everything under the sun. Maybe thats where i get my serial entrepreneur desires, even now in her 70s she has started a new business venture; a day care and nursery school. However, in all her life nothing she has done has generated enough income for her to save for old age, instead like many of her peers, the bulk of her life investment is her children.

Traditionally, these children of which she has 4 are supposed to care for her and that is ultimately her pension scheme. The problem with this however is that as it stands all of my grandmother’s children do not live in Salone. She has two in States, one in Congo and my mother in Ghana. Of the grandchildren which there are 5, I am the only one here with her.

What am i trying to say?

Well apart from just  releasing some frustration. I guess its about lack of care for the elderly and at 25 i have neither the experience nor the strength to do it though i am trying. I am trying to find a nurse who can come home and help my granny whose bones have been weakened by cancer. I don’t know how she copes not being very mobile these days, having to spend every day at home, heavily dependent on Africa Movie Magic. Her life now revolves around watching Nigerian Home videos on DSTV and i am thankful that at least she has a little entertainment in her life to distract her from her illness

She is out of the hospital today and seems everything went well at the hospital. My mind is at ease for the moment, but i know something else will happen soon to highlight how little help there is available to care for someone who is not only ill but also elderly.

I ran 28 miles this week up and down Lumbley Beach, something i never thought i could do but it is nothing compared to what mummy had to endure this week.

So i dedicate my triumph over the pavement to her…my one and only mummyk

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