A back view of the new Maternal and Child Healthcare Unit at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in eastern Freetown, Sierra Leone.
By Phileas Jusu and Julia Kayser*
December 5, 2013—The Kissy United Methodist Hospital in eastern Freetown, Sierra Leone, now provides better care through a newly constructed Mother and Child Health unit. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)—with major donations from organized partners within the Indiana Annual Conference and the Brother’s Brother Foundation—partnered with USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program to complete this $750,000 construction project. The new building was dedicated on October 26.
“This facility will offer the highest level of readiness and the highest level of maternal care anywhere in Sierra Leone,” Dr. Dennis Marke, chief medical officer of the hospital, told guests at the dedication. Air conditioning, hot and cold running water, wheelchair access, laboratory and radiology departments, an expanded pharmacy, and equipment for emergency surgery are a few of the things that set this building apart.
In addition to improving the quality of care provided, the new Mother and Child Health Unit expands the hospital’s capacity. Bed space is doubled in both the maternity and pediatric wards. This will allow the hospital to serve an estimted 25 percent more patients. In just a few years, the number of people served by Kissy UM Hospital is estimated to exceed 50,000.
Sierra Leone Vice President Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumanan gave the dedication’s keynote address. “What I am today, I owe it to The United Methodist Church,” he said, referring to his primary and secondary education at United Methodist schools. But he acknowledged that not all children are so lucky. He cited the country’s still troubling maternal and child mortality rates, although these have steadily improved in the past decade thanks to hospitals like Kissy.
Other speakers included Shannon Trilli (director of UMCOR Global Health) and resident Bishop John K. Yambasu. Every voice rang with pride and the determination to continue the good work, much of which will take place outside the hospital’s walls. The hospital’s Community Outreach Unit will focus on scaling up programs that address HIV and AIDS, malaria control, and nutrition—issues all connected to maternal and child survival. This will allow the hospital to help people in the surrounding villages—where maternal mortality, child morbidity, and diseases of poverty are most pronounced.
“Kissy operates and offers care in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Freetown,” said Trilli. In such a poor community, mothers and children are at huge risk. “We’re committed to providing care for the most vulnerable,” Trilli explains, “and that’s why we’re here.”
You can help expand services for those in need through a donation to Advance #982168, Health Systems Strengthening, or Advance #3021770, Global Health.
* Phileas Jusu is conference communicator for the Sierra Leone Annual Conference, and Julia Kayser is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to www.umcor.org.