International public health emergencies: Lessons learned in West Africa
SIERRA LEONE, an impoverished country in West Africa, has faced civil war and HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria pandemics, and more recently, the world's largest Ebola epidemic.1 Before the Ebola epidemic, this country faced a shortage of nurses and healthcare providers, and the epidemic further compounded this shortage.2 For years, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), volunteer groups, and universities have sent expatriate nurses, physicians, other healthcare workers, volunteers, and students to Sierra Leone to study, immerse themselves in the culture, and provide medical assistance.3 Nurses visiting countries such as Sierra Leone need to have training or experience in cultural humility; they must show sensitivity to host healthcare workers.4
This article discusses Sierra Leone in the context of nursing care, training, leadership, and collaboration. It features the work of Andrew Sesay, a nurse who's tirelessly worked with hundreds of expatriate medical professionals who've come to his country to provide aid. He shares his perspectives on global health nursing and offers advice about how expatriate healthcare workers may best provide assistance in his home country.