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Sister Hilary Lyons MSHR
Hilary was born in Co Mayo, Ireland, and became a Holy Rosary Sister after leaving school. In 2017 she was awarded an honorary Fellowhsip with the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland for her contribution to public heaalth.
“Dr Lyons qualified in medicine in 1952, and was assigned to the mission of Sierra Leone and the small rural hospital of Serabu. There she developed maternal and child health care together with medical and surgical services. The challenges of maternal and child health led her to look at wider determinants of health in the community, and she embarked on a path to public health. Her particular interest was anthropology and the influence of culture, beliefs and customs on health, and with fellow-sisters and staff she built up relations in the surrounding communities, with women, villagers and chiefs, and was a member of the powerful Women’s Society, the Bundu. Prevention health programmes were established including education and vaccination, with training of traditional birth attendants.
“Sr Hilary’s influence was not just in the development of health services in Sierra Leone but also had a wider ripple effect in many other countries. She was a contributor to the seminal book by David Morley, Practising Health for All, which describes how communities can develop their own health services. In 1984 she went to work with the Ministry of Health in the Bo Region of Sierra Leone. The Government of Sierra Leone recognized her contribution by making her a Commander of the Order of Rokel. Sister Hilary is now retired and living in Ireland.”
(From the Citation to the RCPI by Dr Margaret Fitzgerald, Board Member of the Faculty of Public Health)
Picture shows Sister Hilary with family members, Holy Rosary Sisters, and friends and colleagues from Sierra Leone.