To drastically reduce the high incidence of child mortality through the provision of a brand new 80 bed children’s ward – one that would offer a combination of services unmatched anywhere in West Africa, including the following;
- Surgical Ward
- Medical Ward
- Neo-Natal Care Ward
- Dedicated Malnutrition Ward
- Dedicated area for play therapy
Why the need?
As a mother to 3 healthy children, Anita was absolutely horrified by the sight that confronted her when she first witnessed Bansang Hospital’s Children’s Ward back in 1992. Children with burns and physical injuries would often be put in the same beds as children with highly infectious diseases. This wasn’t a fault of the medical staff; it was merely the reality of huge influxes of children entering a ward that was built under very different conditions. Years of chronic under investment had left the children’s ward threadbare and utterly unfit for patients that were, without exception, severely ill. (being a largely subsistence economy, parents often have little or no money to transport themselves and their children to Bansang. As such, they often wait until it is too late before admitting their children).
Anita’s efforts in the early years had always sought to improve this situation. A British pest control company (Eagle Pest Services) helped to eradicate the rat and cockroach infestations that had been a serious vector of infectious disease transmission. Hospital wide cleaning programs and the repair of infrastructure and electrical systems helped to bring light and sanitation. But this could never alleviate the chronic shortage of beds – an unavoidable legacy of a hospital that was built almost 70 years earlier when population levels were much lower.
For 12 years, Anita had fought desperately to get the hospital to a point of development that would allow her the time and latitude to fundraise for this most ambitious of projects. Every year that this new ward remained unbuilt took the hospital further away from drastically reducing the high levels of infant mortality – and further from their objective of achieving the Millennium Development Goals for health.
The Children’s Unit – open!
The Children’s Unit has had a tremendous impact upon infant mortality rates since it has opened. It is now undoubtedly the most advanced and effective Children’s Unit in the Gambia – and probably this part of West Africa too. The staff on the unit are rightly proud of the incredible impact that they have had on child mortality rates. The added space and facilities are allowing the medical staff to pursue innovative programs that are proving incredibly successful (notably, the burns, malnutrition and play therapy initiatives)
Given the extremely high numbers of children that are treated each year, there is always something that needs doing or repairing on the unit. We are fortunate to have a hospital maintenance team that is extremely capable and resourceful. However, there are always core ongoing costs. If you would like to support this programme or any other, please make a donation or contact Anita directly. As ever with donations made to the appeal, we will spend it on the absolute highest priority needs in the most cost-effective way.