Summary: Mohamed S. Bah is the founder and Executive Director of Healthcare for the Aged, a charitable organisation that looks after homeless, aged Sierra Leoneans who are suffering from visual impairment or life-threatening diseases with little or no support from any source, be it government or private individuals or groups. Bah risks his physical, financial and emotional life to care for the elderly.
Profile: Founder of Sierra Leone’s Healthcare for the Aged (HCA), Mohamed S. Bah was inspired by the story of a pregnant woman who was living in an impoverished community of Moyeba, in the east end of the capital. The woman died because she had no motorized access to a neighbourhood health facility: She was beginning to be carried there by several men, when one of them tripped, which led to a miscarriage and the woman’s death. This made Bah believe that a humanitarian intervention was urgently needed.
Bah believed that the well-being of the aged in Sierra Leone was appalling and needed urgent and focused attention. That was what motivated him to establish the HCA, targeting Sierra Leoneans who might have contributed meaningfully to the development of Sierra Leone during their youthful age but who now faced abandonment by the government or by family members and could no longer fend for themselves.
These helpless older people have mostly lived in hard-to-reach communities in Sierra Leone, including in Freetown. According to a 2015 Population and Housing Census, about 3.5% of the population is aged. Among this group, females are the most vulnerable and widowed. The HCA supports the selected beneficiaries with basic health assistance and at the same time advocates for policies that will restore the dignity and respect of the aged.
From the beginning, Mr. Bah—through his own funding—has enabled over 50 elderly individuals to get access to medical services they couldn’t otherwise afford. His support also provides food, shelter, and clothing for those residing in the healthcare home.
Aside from his daily financial contributions, Bah pushes hard to attract the attention of officials who frame policies for the aged—supporting policies that help them and challenging polices that don’t. His challenges make enemies.
Bah has even risked his life to advocate for the elderly—once he swam 30 minutes to reach a remote village with news of his charity. His emotional stress wears on him as well: Some of the aged are sick, others have to undergo surgery, and still others have terminal illnesses.
Nonetheless, Mohamed S. Bah anticipates seeing the aged get better conditions of service and access to quality primary healthcare.