health care in Gambia|
Gambia has become a popular holiday
destination that can provide all the trappings Western tourists want.
years ago Anita, a Northamptonshire woman, went there on a luxury holiday.
and her husband took a trip into the Bush and her life changed forever.
visit took her to the remote town of Bansang - where she saw the hospital.
was so appalled at conditions at the hospital that her mission to improve things
has taken over her life:
"Entering those wards was the
turning point of my life
"The children have been the driving
force. In the early days I hadn't the courage to go to parts of the ward.
I realised that no-one else was going to speak up for them. Nobody else was going
to do it."
|HEALTH PROVISION |
Gambia is situated on the West African coast. One and a half million people live
there. They rely on three government run hospitals for health care.
expectancy is 54 years (men) and 57 years (women).
Bansang Hospital is situated
in the African bush, 200 miles from the coast. It is a small 160 bed facility
built by the British in 1938.
The hospital provides for the health needs
of 600,000 Gambians. Extra pressure comes with the arrival of patients from Senegal,
Mali, Guinea and refugees from Sierra Leone.
Successive Governments have
tried to offer the health service as much resources as possible. But the economy
just does not generate enough money to satisfy demands.
Hospital Appeal and UN.
One in four children in the Gambia
die before their fifth birthday.
It was with this statistic in her mind
that Anita began a campaign to open a new children's ward.
Once open, it
will be the only one of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It's been entirely
funded by public donation.
The new 80 bed ward is due to open in March
But that won't be the end.
Anita is already working on the
next phases - including a programme to keep trained nurses in the Gambia.
by higher wages and better living conditions, 60 per cent of Gambians leave to
work in the UK.
This is stripping the country of desperately needed expertise.
Anita will be working with the Gambians to address this problem.
Inside Out accompanied Anita this November as she made one of
the final trips before the opening of the new ward.
This is a story of
how a local community here, with Anita's leadership, is enabling a community in
the developing world.
There have been 13 years of challenges to come this
Now as well as ensuring the hospital opens, Anita needs to ensure
it will sustain in the long term.
We meet Oope Badjie - a Gambian Play
She's sponsored by the charity to help kids recover. She'll run
the new playroom when it opens.
She and others are sponsored so they stay
and work in the Gambia rather than leave for the UK for higher wages.
The people of Northamptonshire have supported the charity whole
heartedly, both by giving money and equipment as well as direct help.
General Hospital is even twinned with Bansang!
Dr Annabel Kerr is just
one person who's helped.
She was working at Kettering General Hospital,
and is herself fighting cancer.
She is now spending the next two years
working at Bansang.
"You can", she says, "make a small
And of course there are
the stories of local people in the Gambia.
Like Alargie, a young man from
a local village.
Anita brought him to Northampton to have a prosthetic
with a mission - Anita Smith|
But amputation carries a huge
stigma in The Gambia.
So Alargie has kept his new leg a secret.
- except his immediate family - think that he has had a miracle and that his leg
He would have been an outcast - but now he's working at the
hospital and helping in his village.
The new ward should open soon.
in Northamptonshire helped with the plans. The building work was done by the local
community - with more than 7,500 bricks being made from a single brick mould.
But even when the new ward opens this spring, Anita hasn't finished
"That's phase 1 - look out for phase two and three", she says
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