A new paediatric centre with state of the art equipment has been opened at Malawi’s biggest referral hospital – Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital – in Blantyre, casting a ray of hope for thousands of children who are in need of life-saving operations.
The Mercy James Institute for Paediatric, Surgery and Intensive Care Centre, which has been named after the first girl US pop star, Madonna, adopted from Malawi will help the hospital double the number of surgeries performed on children each year, and also serve as a training centre for local doctors.
Through her charity, Raising Malawi, Madonna announced in November 2014 that she would finance the construction of the Mercy James Institute of Paediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, a state-of-the-art paediatric surgery and intensive care unit.
The facility has 56 beds, three theatre rooms, intensive care unit, high dependency unit, 46 main wards and a recovery ward. It is estimated that 700 surgeries will be conducted annually.
Speaking at the opening ceremony in Blantyre, which was attended by Malawian president Peter Mutharika, Madonna said her passion to build the paediatric centre came into being a decade ago when she was doing a documentary I am Because We Are, which was about
HIV/AIDS children in Malawi.
‘What I saw at the time changed my life forever. From that time so many things that I never imagined have happened in my life. I never imagined I would build a paedriatric hospital. I never imagined that I would have six children, four of them from Malawi,’ she said.
She added: ‘The construction of the centre is a result of many dedicated people and I am grateful to these people for making my dream come true. This is the first pediatric centre of this kind and will make a difference in the lives of thousands of children here.
‘It is one of the things that make me proud. It creates a superior learning environment for training Malawi’s next generation of doctors so that the country can be self-sufficient in that field. Never give up on your dream. If you persevere you will win and love conquers
President Mutharika described Madonna as ‘a loving mother of humanity who showed care for children.’ He added: ‘Madonna is a symbol of motherly spirit. This centre is a national
pride where children with critical conditions will be treated. It will also offer advanced research in areas such as malaria. She came, she saw a need and she has provided.’
According to Raising Malawi, the hospital currently has a four-bed intensive care unit for its 1,300 patients per day, which results in many children not receiving the critical care they need. In addition to serving more children, this new facility will become a training centre of excellence for Southern Africa, with more local doctors acquiring the skills needed to perform paediatric surgery.
In a country with only three paediatric surgeons and 50 percent of the population under 15 years old, this new facility could make a significant difference in the lives of Malawian children.
Dr Eric Borgstein, one of only four paediatric surgeons working in Malawi, for the past 20 years, said he treats thousands of children every year, performing hundreds of life-saving operations. ‘There is an apparent shortage of doctors here. This is an amazing
facility will help a lot of children,’ he said.
Madonna has four children adopted from Malawi – David, Mercy, Stella and Esther.