N.L. group builds maternity hospital in Kenya

Andrew Robinson
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Phase 1 of MaterCare International’s Project Isiolo is now complete with the opening of a 20-bed maternity hospital in Isiolo, Kenya, to provide obstetrical services. — Submitted photo

A non-profit organization based in St. John’s hopes the completion of a new 20-bed hospital in Kenya will help lower the risk of maternal death for local women.

Last Saturday, thousands of people gathered in Isiolo, Kenya, including President Mwai Kibaki, to open MaterCare International’s (MCI) maternity hospital.

MCI project manager Simon Walley said a bishop from a local Catholic diocese contacted the group in 2005 asking for help in order to reduce maternal deaths in the area.

“What we concluded, because there’s no place over there, is they needed a facility that could treat medical complications and do normal delivery,” Walley said.

“There’s a general hospital in the area, but it’s under-staffed and under-equipped, and most deliveries in Africa, let along Kenya, take place at home.”

When complications occur as a woman gives birth at home, Walley said, maternal death often results. According to the World Health Organization, more than half of all maternal deaths worldwide occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Not a lot is being done about it,” Walley said.

With help from other organizations and people from across Canada, the United States and Australia, enough funds were raised to build the facility at a cost of approximately $750,000. A maternity clinic 200 kilometres north of the hospital in Merti was also built. It opened last year.

Because the roads are so treacherous in Kenya — Walley said the drive between the hospital and clinic takes five hours — a 4x4 ambulance will be used along with two specially designed maternity motorcycles ambulances that were made in South Africa. The 4x4 will travel long distances, while the motorcycles will be used for trips to local villages.

“We purchased (the 4x4 ambulance) about two years ago, and we know of at least eight cases where that ambulance alone saved a mother’s life,” he said.

Due to the nature of funding availability, Walley said, the Isiolo Project is taking place in stages. With construction of the hospital complete, the project now moves into raising funds to operate the hospital. Based on MCI’s budget, operating costs for five years will require $2.4 million.

Walley said the Kibaki government has verbally committed to provide a doctor and three nurses for the hospital, but more staff will be required for the facility.

MCI, an organization of Catholic health professionals with a mission to serve what its website refers to as “the Gospel of Life,” has also worked in Nigeria and Ghana. Through its work in those countries, Walley said, it has noticed mothers have few concrete rights.

The group has since developed a “Charter of Mothers’ Rights” and is sharing it with governments and agencies in the hope they will considering adopting it. It covers issues of a mother’s right to adequate care and protection from violence, as well as the right to life of the unborn child.



Twitter: TeleAndrew

Organizations: MCI, World Health Organization

Geographic location: Kenya, Isiolo, Africa Canada United States Australia Merti South Africa Kibaki Nigeria Ghana

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Recent comments

  • Marlene Deal
    June 06, 2012 - 16:13

    What great news that at last women in and around this facility will have a safe place to give birth. I do hope that staffing will not be a problem and training is being provided asap.Thank you Jennifer for the pic. Marlene.

  • Jennifer
    May 27, 2012 - 16:46

    Every hospital, every organization, has a mission statement. These statements come from values/morals/beliefs, and it's erroneous to think that a "non-Christian" group doesn't have a belief system. In addition, you'll notice that the article shows that a local Bishop contacted this group to build the hospital. The people of these regions are predominately Christian/Catholic (sometimes also Muslim). To offer them a rhetoric that is in conflict with these beliefs as an ultimatum for receiving health care is equivocal to Colonialism.

  • Chantal
    May 26, 2012 - 07:45

    Yes, they need the help (considering all we take from them and their land.) What they don’t need is a Christian charity imposing upon them a so-called “charter of rights” that denies these women the dignity to make their own choice for themselves.

    • David
      May 26, 2012 - 10:49

      So you go out, raise money to build your own hospitals on your own terms. Nope...you'd rather see some of these people die rather than be possibly exposed to some tenets of Christianity...maybe. Neither bit self-righteous, are you?

    • valerie edwards
      May 26, 2012 - 11:34

      Chantal, if their were no Christian charity to help them , then who among you non christians will. Womens lives not your choices is what is at stake here and dying women are not concerned with women libbers, Guess if you were dying and a christian could help you , you would refuse the help. YEAH RIGHT.

    • seanoairborne
      May 26, 2012 - 15:18

      What to hell has anybody ever taken from them or their land?They have nothing to take!I guess what they really need is a big mouth bloviator such as yourself looking to pick a fight for the sake of picking a fight so they can remain living in the dark ages and dying in wholesale batches?What a dumb idiot!