Sierra Leone: UN peacekeepers give free medical treatment to villagers

23 April 2001

The medical unit of a United Nations peacekeeping battalion in Sierra Leone provided more than 4,000 villagers with free medical assistance over the weekend, the UN mission announced today in Freetown.

The Free Medical Day was offered on 21 April in Lakka by the Jordanian Medical Unit of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). The country's Ministry of Health provided health workers on a volunteer basis to help facilitate the work, especially in language translation and liaison with local authorities.

Organized by UNAMSIL as part of the Mission's peace-building activities, the event benefited women, children and the elderly who lived in remote areas and could not afford to pay for medical care. Free medical diagnosis and treatment were given to people from ten villages. The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Behrooz Sadry, and the Deputy Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, attended the events, calling for closer working relations between the villagers and the peacekeepers.

The UN team treated a wide range of illnesses, including urinary tract infections, anaemia, chest pains, cataracts, tonsillitis, conjunctivitis, and skin infections, while Jordanian dentists performed 200 tooth extractions.

The response from the villagers was impressive, according to UNAMSIL. The Village Area Chairman, Sampha Kamara, thanked the UN operation for its goodwill gesture and appealed to the Jordanian Medical Unit, through its Commanding Officer, Col. Dr. Abel Karim Ababneh, to extend its services to other villagers in Lakka who were not able to travel the long distance to Sengbeh Pieh Secondary School in Hamilton where the event was held.

Villagers spoke positively of the gesture and expressed the hope that UNAMSIL would continue with such outreach programmes.