Senegal

Collaborative project saves lives in a remote Senegalese hospital

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Senegal/2006/ Blanchet
Oumou Kalsoum Dramé sits at her second ante-natal visit at the Nioro District Hospital.

By Sandie Blanchet

NIORO, Senegal, 7 September 2006 – Oumou Kalsoum Dramé just concluded her second antenatal visit at the Nioro District Hospital. After a thorough examination, including an ultrasound, the midwife has declared both Ms. Dramé and her future baby to be healthy.

Although this may seem like an ordinary scene in any hospital, it is actually quite remarkable for the remote Nioro region of Senegal. Until recently, Nioro District Hospital had been lacking both modern equipment and trained staff members.

Now, thanks to a collaborative project involving the government of Senegal, the African Development Bank and UNICEF, Nioro is fully equipped to save lives.

Head Doctor of the Nioro hospital Doctor Aliou Diallo is very proud of the new facility. “It represents a huge improvement,“ he says. “We now have more staff and better quality equipment.”

Before the project, it was not possible to perform operations, so pregnant women who needed caesareans had to be evacuated to the regional hospital of Kaolak, 55 km away. If the old ambulance was not available, the women would be taken by crowded bus or horse cart. Many women and babies died on the road. All that has changed.

”We are able to offer more health services, because we have an operating room, a laboratory and a blood bank. When women come for antenatal visits, we inform them about HIV/AIDS and testing,” says Dr. Diallo.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Senegal/2006/ Blanchet
A health care worker in one of Senegal's new highly equipped District hospitals.

'A question of survival'

The project began in 2000, with a budget of nearly $2.5 million. It covers nine district hospitals, 36 rural maternity wards and 74 health centres. Each partner played a different role in getting Nioro up and running: the government of Senegal built the hospital, the African Development Bank provided funds and UNICEF Procurement Services took on the challenging job of purchasing equipment.

“This is a very ambitious project,” says Project Coordinator at the Ministry of Health Dramé Ndèye Coumba Guissé. “We are very satisfied with our partnership with UNICEF. We’d like to make this collaboration a common practice. Procurement Services has allowed us to save money and time and has guaranteed the quality of all the medical equipment.”

Already, the new health facilities have resulted in concrete improvements for women and children. In Nioro, the number of patients seeking care, especially women and children, has recently tripled.

Ms. Dramé, who has two other children, says she will come back to Nioro District Hospital to deliver her baby. “Everything is clean here and the equipment is brand new. I trust the midwives and doctors, and I know everything will be fine,” she explains.

The hospital now promotes breastfeeding and long-lasting bednets, as well as offering immunization services. A preliminary survey shows that the number of caesareans in Nioro has increased, which will help save the lives of more mothers and babies.

Pleased with all the recent improvements at the hospital, Ms. Guissé concludes, “It’s a question of survival. We are saving human lives.”


 

 

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