Sierra Leone: Clowning around for health

In November, a team of professional clowns from Red Noses International visited an MSF project, to spread some smiles among the young patients in Kabala District Hospital.

03 Dec 17

It’s been an unusual sight for patients in Kabala District Hospital: over the last few weeks they’ve been visited not only by doctors and nurses, but also by… clowns.

Bursts of laughter have been heard from the children’s ward, where four clowns from Red Noses International did their “rounds”, bringing laughter and a break from the usual hospital routines to patients, caregivers and staff.

Images shows the clowns at work with the MSF team in Sierra leone

Red Noses International are a network of professional clowns who visit patients in hospitals around the world.

The visit Kabala, in the north of Sierra Leone, was part of a joint effort by MSF and Red Noses International to lift the spirits of patients in the hospital and surrounding villages.

With their fun activities, the clown team helped to reduce patients' fear, anxiety and stress.

Smiles after Ebola

“The clowns from Red Noses International brought laughter to patients and MSF staff alike,” says Edda Bambach, human resources coordinator in Sierra Leone. “The value of this kind of visit for people’s wellbeing can’t be underestimated.”

MSF has been working in the Koinadugu region since 2016, providing medical support while the community and healthcare system recover following the Ebola outbreak.

“The value of this kind of visit for people’s wellbeing can’t be underestimated.”
Edda BambachMSF HR Coordinator

Although Sierra Leone was declared free from Ebola on 17 March 2016, the country is still struggling to rebuild its overburdened health system.

Many people have no access to medical care, resulting in some of the world’s worst health indicators, particularly for mothers and children.

As a response to the situation, MSF runs medical activities in Koinadugu in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. Since MSF started working in the region, the capacity of Kabala Hospital has been increased from 81 to 150 beds.

More than 8,500 patients have been treated, and over 500 women with complicated deliveries have been assisted to give birth. In Mongo, a rural part of Koinadugu district, MSF has successfully established a blood bank.

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The clown team haven’t limited their antics to the children’s ward. They’ve been taking their slapstick shows to the local villages, reinforcing MSF’s health promotion activities on topics like malaria prevention and antenatal care.

And it doesn't stop there. The clown team ran a series of workshops to teach the MSF and Ministry of Health staff how they can integrate playfulness and humour into their daily work routines, so the laughter on the wards can continue long after their visit has ended.

MSF in Kabala Hospital

In Kabala District Hospital, MSF supports the paediatric and maternity wards, the obstetric operating theatre, delivery room, neonatal ward, laboratory, blood bank, triage & isolation, emergency and observation rooms.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Koinadugu, MSF provides lifesaving service, serving a district of more than 400,000 people. 

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