It is with profound sadness and deep respect that we announce the passing of Dr. Edward Ali Nahim, a distinguished Psychiatrist who left an indelible mark on the mental health landscape in Sierra Leone. Dr. Nahim, born on December 12, 1944, in Port Loko, Northern Sierra Leone, passed away on January 1, 2024, leaving behind a legacy of resilience and dedication.
Dr. Nahim’s early life was rooted in the vibrant communities of Port Loko and Pepel in the northern region of Sierra Leone. His educational journey commenced at the Church of England School in Pepel and continued at the Schlenker Secondary School in Port Loko, where he completed his O’ level and A’ levels exams. In pursuit of his passion for medicine, Dr. Nahim travelled to the Soviet Union in 1965, now Russia, where he dedicated seven years to studying and ultimately graduated with an MD (Doctor of Medicines) in 1972.
Upon returning to Sierra Leone, Dr. Nahim began his illustrious career with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, embarking on a mission to elevate mental health care in the country. In 1978, he furthered his expertise in Psychiatry, obtaining a Diploma in Psychological Medicine and becoming a member of the Royal College of Psychiatry in the United Kingdom. Dr. Nahim returned to Freetown in 1982 and, despite retiring, continued to serve as a consultant psychiatrist on a yearly contract, providing invaluable expertise to the mental hospital.
Dr. Nahim faced numerous challenges as the sole consultant psychiatrist in Sierra Leone during his early professional years. Undeterred, he played a pivotal role in introducing psychiatry at the College of Medicines and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), where he passionately lectured until his retirement in 2023.
During the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, Dr. Nahim exhibited extraordinary courage and compassion. He treated people with a mental health condition from correctional centres, police custody, homes, and the streets. Notably, he played a crucial role in demobilizing child soldiers, offering both physical and mental health care, and facilitating job rehabilitation for their reintegration into society.
Dr. Nahim’s motivation stemmed from a desire to pursue a specialist course in general medicine, but fate led him to psychiatry at the request of the Chief Medical Officer due to its absence in Sierra Leone. His post-graduate psychiatric training paved the way for a remarkable career marked by over 35 years of unwavering commitment to psychiatric treatment.
A consummate professional, Dr. Nahim loved and enjoyed his job passionately. Despite the challenges faced in the field, he stood resilient, treating patients for free and advocating tirelessly for increased government funding, training for psychiatric nurses and doctors, and additional psychiatric hospitals nationwide.
Dr. Edward Ali Nahim leaves behind a legacy of dedication and a profound impact on mental health care in Sierra Leone. His contributions will be remembered and cherished by the countless lives he touched. Rest in peace, Dr. Edward Ali Nahim. Our deepest sympathies extend to all who are grappling with the weight of this profound loss.