Sierra Leone and the Community Health Officer


  • Lawrence Kargbo
  • Musa Sillah


Sierra Leone, Community Health Officer


The CHO profession began as a response to the growing demand for improvement in primary health care after the Alma Ata Conference in 1978. Its Paramedical School, established in 1983, would go on to produce the country’s inaugural graduates in 1986. Initially, the institution was funded by the European Union (EU) and was mandated to train scientifically oriented and multivalent health workers to replace those dispensers and Endemic Disease Control Units (EDCU) Assistants that were manning Peripheral Health Units (PHU) within the country. After three years, graduates were deemed Community Health Technicians (CHT). Further need for medical training to keep pace with the healthcare demands within the country would promote the development of a more advanced training program for which CHTs could also participate to further their knowledge base and skill sets.

During its initial years, CHO programs were under the control of the MOH of Sierra Leone. At this time, they were only allowed to enroll 30 students per program and administer a certificate for the program. It wasn’t until 2005 when Njala University—the only school to maintain a program in the country—took over, increasing enrollment to 150 students per program and implementing a Higher Diploma for Community Health and Clinical Sciences (for CHOs). In 2008, the first set of Community Health Assistants (CHA) were admitted and graduate with a Diploma in Community Health and Clinical Sciences (as CHA). The first Bsc (Honors) in Community Health and Clinical Sciences started in 2015. Now, over a 100 students per year will graduate from the Njala University Bo Campus (formerly Paramedical School, Bo) to join the approximate 2,100 graduates who practice throughout the country.

Author Biographies

Lawrence Kargbo

A receiver of the higher diploma in community health with additional diploma in general surgery and OB/GYN and recent Bachelor of Science (BSc) in community health sciences, Lawrence Teteh Kargbo serves his community as a provider with a similar role to that of a physician assistant (PA) in the United States. Representing his colleagues as the national president for Surgical Community Health Officers (CHO), the Vice Chairman for the Sierra Leone Association of Community Health Officers (SLACHO) and the third Vice Chairman for the Global Association of Clinical Officers and Physician Associates (GACOPA) in Africa, he continues to serve those whose knowledge and access to medical care remains limited. He provides further education to his medical colleagues as a volunteer lecturer at Njala University Bo in southern Sierra Leone and personally is working on a Master’s in Public Health so that his outreach can go beyond that of one profession and the classroom. 

Musa Sillah

A pending graduate for the Master’s in Public Health (MPH) degree in Sierra Leone, Musa Baimba Sillah doubles as a Community Health Officer (CHO) for the Ministry of Health (MOH) as well as serves as the National Chairman of SLACHO. Thoroughly trained in multiple areas of medicine, Mr. Sillah maintains a Certificate in Management and Leadership in Health, a Higher Diploma in Community Health and Clinical Studies, a BSc in Community Health and Clinical Studies, and has experience as a master trainer for community health workers. Musa strives to advance his skills within the community while continuing to be a facilitator for management of neonatal and childhood illnesses. His personal experience in the CHO profession has prompted his involvement in this research.  Musa is also Vice President of Cooperative Affairs for the West African Association of Physician Assistants Association (WAAPA)




How to Cite

Kargbo, L., & Sillah, M. (2021). Sierra Leone and the Community Health Officer. Social Innovations Journal, 8. Retrieved from