Local charity Monmouth Aid have been supporting some of the poorest communities in Africa since 1985. Past projects have included building wells so that village communities have access to clean drinking water and supporting the funding of school building projects to enable children to have an education. A recent change of direction has seen the small charity link up with Kings College Global Health Partnership (KCGHP) to support the establishment of a Specialist Stroke Unit in Connaught Hospital, Sierra Leone.

Research by KCGHP collected showed that people in this area of Sub-Saharan Africa are having a stroke young and are often the main breadwinner in their family. 93% of patients were totally independent in their daily lives before they had their strokes and after a year just 19% were independent. Just think about the huge impact this has had, not just on the patient but on their whole family. Unlike in the UK, there is no National Health Service and patients have to find the money to pay for their stay in hospital and additional money for expensive procedures such as a CT Scan. Before the Stroke Unit was set up, 37% of stroke patients died in hospital, and half of all stroke patients died within a year of having their stroke. Patients arriving in hospital with a stroke did not even have a bed to lie on, and cardboard boxes were used to protect them from the cold floor.

Since the Stroke Unit has been established, hospital deaths have reduced by 13% and the percentage of complications and secondary infections such as pneumonia have decreased dramatically. This is due to patients having a routine swallow assessment, getting the right medication in time and having access to physiotherapy to help with rehabilitation.

Monmouth Aid’s recent donation of £8,000 has enabled the Stroke Unit to train medical staff in Stroke management and to buy basic equipment such as handwash basins, bed rails, bedside tables, commode chairs, tables and chairs, lockable cupboards, coat hooks, chairs with arms, wheelchairs, suction and cannulas, freezers and wall fans. This relatively small donation has been wisely spent and Monmouth Aid have received detailed reports and photographs from the team in Connaught Hospital, who have been incredibly grateful for the support received.

Future plans for the ward include buying a much-needed hoist, continuing to train more staff and supporting day-to-day needs of patients.

Monmouth Aid have been generously supported for over 35 years by many people in the Monmouth area and parishioners of local churches. The committee have been sad to lose two long-standing and valued friends/committee members this year, Helen McPherson and Janet Waters. The charity has been very grateful for the generous donations from their respective memorial services.

Monmouth Aid’s next fundraising event will be a quiz and curry night at Bridges Centre, Monmouth on Saturday 25th November 7 pm for a 7.30 pm start. Tickets are £15 and are available by contacting Tanya Walters, secretary at [email protected]. We welcome both regular supporters and new faces!