Children are my best patients because, “they don’t pretend to be well when they are sick, If they are sick, they are sick unlike adults”.
I am Vandi Tamba Sombie age 55 years. A Sierra Leonean National from the Eastern Region of Sierra Leone and my tribal roots from Kono/ Mende ethnic groups of Sierra Leone.
I did most of my studies in Bo (Primary to Tertiary) and correspondent online courses IPPC/ DCH in Sydney, Australia and fellowship in Sydney University and West mead Hospital (SCHN) and some other specialize Pediatric training in the Sub region (Ghana and Botswana).
I have a happy family of five; my wife, and four joyful boys. As a Sierra Leonean and a cultured African, I do have my immediate extended family; an aged hypertensive mother, a younger brother, and five sisters. Four of who were staying in the United States of America and the other sister was a trained medical nurse who derides her busy schedule between her work and taking care of our mother.
My love for pediatric medicine sprang from a special case I encountered at a clinic. It involved a convulsive child who was brought in, in a very critical state. With my experience, she was resuscitated after being diagnosed and administered with the appropriate medication. On the second day of her stay at the clinic, and with much improvement, we visited her bedside with other medical staff whilst doing our usual Ward rounds. The child though tired expressed her love and gratitude for her recovery by asking her mother to give her money so that she can thank her Doctor. This quiet and memorable scene brought tears to my eyes as the child brought out a coin of Five Hundred Leone (Le 500) and handed it to me. “Tenki Doctor, leh God bless you” which in Krio the commonly spoken language in Sierra Leone means “ Thank you, Doctor, may God bless you”. I saw in the eyes of this sick child the happiness of being well again, I saw her in eyes her life dreams being rekindled, her hopes springing back to life. I am sure, there are other sick children who need such attention. There are millions of children who need a touching hand, a hand of medical assurance that will shower life into their souls. This became a turning point in my career pursuit. To help the other children who needed special medical attention
My boss the Consultant Pediatrician, the late Doctor J.A Ngegba (RIP) was so impressed and touched by the Child’s gratitude that warmly squeezing my palm whispered into my ears “You are a Doctor and a Father, Vandi”. These words of my Doctor triggered my medical appetite again. A Pediatrician is also a father of his patients. There is always a bond between the Doctor and the child and it is built on the foundation of love.
I have been holding on to my dream, even after the death of Dr Ngegba, as his clinic was handed over to me by his family. I threw all my medical strength to see that the St Joseph Clinic and rehabilitation Center became a success story. Which was situated in Bo continue in providing medical services to Children. After four years of successful operations of the Clinic, the building was demolished by the Government for another developmental project. This very sad situation was very complex to understand and bear. This sad event became indelible on my mind for years.
My dreams came alive again as I was called upon to serve as the Medical Superintendent and Pediatric Doctor at the first Children’s hospital in Bo and the second in the entire country. I have little time for myself. I worked seven (7) days a week in both private and public medical institutions. My strength is generated from the positive outcomes of my patients.
My five years of working at the Bo Children’s Hospital without leave. I can only go on leave when I am ill due to the shortage of staff at the required level. In cases of severe flu, I prefer staying at home so that I don’t spread the virus to my patients. For other illnesses like malaria etc, I can always continue my job.
My aspiration in life is to pursue higher heights in pediatric training as our country continues to suffer from the harsh realities of high neonatal and infants mortality.
With my Thirty (30) years of experience in medical practices at both rural and urban settings, I have been able to have the following awards: - Star Clinician at the Bo Government Hospital, awarded by the Hospital Management and the Board, Best Medical Pediatric Practitioner in the Bo City 2012, awarded by One World Link, Bo Youth wing, I have been a local Examiner for our Community Health Officers and currently an Examiner for the IPPC participants that are based in Bo and a focal person for Scale of Nutrition and Immunization Bo district, Sierra Leone. These awards were given based on my performance at both the Bo Children’s Hospital and Bo Government Hospital.
I have a very good interpersonal and cordial relationship with our Consultant Pediatricians and visiting Doctors to the hospital. They had been my mentor and always respond to my calls in the case of difficult situations.
I am a member of Australia awardees alumina in Africa (AAA), Member of Sierra Leone Pediatrics Society, Member of Sierra Leone Association of Community Health Officers (SLACO) and also a Rotarian.