Wellbody Alliance’s Story
Wellbody means 'health' in Krio, Sierra Leone's lingua franca. We view the communities that we work with as partners, and at its core our approach is locally-specific and unique--that's why we chose to call ourselves a Krio name.
In 2006, Dan Kelly, a medical student on a year-long global health fellowship traveling through Africa, met Bailo Barrie in Sierra Leone. Bailor, a practicing physician at the time, had always known he wanted to use his medical skills to serve his country's poor. When the two met in Freetown, a partnership was born that would later transform healthcare delivery in Kono District, Sierra Leone.
Dan had never seen so much need in all of his travels, and soon after he, Bailor and a team of dedicated friends and family founded Wellbody Alliance as a healthcare organization based in Sierra Leone with a partner US 501(c)3 nonprofit (then called Global Action Foundation). After two years of traveling and working in partnership with UNICEF, St. John of God Catholic Hospital, and communities in the western regions of the country, the two moved to start a primary care clinic in the region in which they saw the most critical healthcare gaps: Kono District, the epicenter of the country’s civil war and one of the poorest regions in all of West Africa. Kono's healthcare system was devastated, only four doctors served a population of 400,000 people, and there were no NGO clinics in the region providing completely accessible care to the poor. The clinic originally served only amputees and civilians wounded during the war, and provided care to fewer than 1,000 patients in its first year. Within two years however, the clinic’s services were made accessible to the entire population of Kono District, and in 2011, Wellbody provided essential healthcare services to over 20,000 patients. The early years of Wellbody's work in Kono was documented in the award-winning film Pride of Lions.
Currently, the Wellbody clinic provides a wide range of services to some of Sierra Leone’s most impoverished communities, including a comprehensive laboratory, radiology facility, HIV testing center, and a team of primary care specialists with the capacity to diagnose and treat tropical diseases, chronic illnesses and acute conditions. Wellbody’s facility is the only one which offers electrocardiogram, ultrasound and oxygen services in the entire district of 450,000 people.
Wellbody also manages a corps of community health workers who link communities to cilnics in some of the most remote regions of Africa. These community healthworkers provide psychosocial support, education and first-line care to HIV patients, pregnant women and children, TB patients and amputees and war-wounded, and form an effective referral system so that from the instant a patient falls ill, they are accompanied, tracked and supported at each stage of treatment until their health is restored.
Today, Wellbody Alliance is the only organization in Kono that provides comprehensive and integrated clinical and community-based care, and tens of thousands of people have to come to know and appreciate Wellbody as a committed partner to their communities, and a relentless advocate for healthcare as a human right to some of the most war-torn and marginalized communities in Africa.