1. People living in poverty in Sierra Leone have the right to the best healthcare available. We believe that high-quality healthcare is a human right, and that nobody in Kono should die a death that wouldn’t happen in America or Europe. The circumstances of a person’s birth should not determine the value of his or her life. As a global health nonprofit, we must address hypertension, heart diseases and treatable cancers with the same commitment as malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis--even if it means valuing the quality of our patients’ lives over cost-effectiveness calculations.
2. The communities we serve must be involved in designing our programs and priorities. We value community members’ assessments of their own needs as much as we value global health research produced by experts and academic institutions. Community members are our partners, not just recipients of our work. Therefore, when our patients identify unemployment, hunger and inaccessible medical care as the main determinants of their own health, we focus our efforts on addressing these socioeconomic realities in addition to boosting our clinical capacity.
3. Resources that exist within communities can be used to build a healthcare system from the ground up. Traditional healers and birth attendants have operated in Kono for centuries. Their local knowledge, trusted and respected position in the community, and networks of social support are invaluable to their communities and form the basis of many of our programs. Wellbody trains traditional birth attendants to coordinate antenatal care and clinic deliveries for mothers in their community, HIV-positive individuals to provide social support and directly-observed ARV treatment to stigmatized and at-risk HIV/AIDS patients, and amputees to monitor other war-wounded civilians for chronic pain and provide at-home counselling. These initiatives make use of the knowledge and experience of community members and empower people to take an active role in their communities' health.
4. Sustainable community healthcare is public healthcare. We do not aim to build parallel healthcare infrastructure that undermines the public system, and we are not a mission clinic or charity hospital. Though our services are based in Kono District, we hope eventually to benefit people all over Sierra Leone. We are committed to partnering with the government to build a system that can exist even in regions distant from our clinic. We partner with under-resourced government clinics and work to develop capacity in partnership with Kono’s District Hospital. Our vision is an effective, functional and equitable healthcare system that is accessible to all Sierra Leoneans, and will exist for decades to come.