By Joseph Kayira
Blantyre, Malawi – A new pediatric 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 Pediatric, 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, on the other hand serving
as a training center 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 Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, a state-of-the-art
pediatric surgery and intensive care unit.
The facility has 56 bed, 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 Madonna, which was
attended by Malawian president Peter Mutharika, Madonna said her
passion to build the pediatric 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 pedriatic 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 makes 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 “a loving mother of
humanity who showed care for children.”
“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,” he said.
Mutharika said: “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 center of excellence for Southern Africa, with more local
doctors acquiring the skills needed to perform pediatric surgery.
In a country with only three pediatric surgeons and 50% 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 pediatric 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