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Bénin : Avril/Mai 2009

A team from HAMAP HEALTHCARE conducted a medical mission between April 29 and May 11 2009.

Partner organizations: Horizon Médical Afrique & the Hospitaliers of Saint Lazarus, France.

The team included seven (7) delegates, of whom five (5) were doctors.

It was headed by M. Alain Gnahoui, the president of HAMAP HEALTHCARE BENIN. The mission’s objectives were:

1) To introduce representatives of the NGO HAMAP to contacts at CPADD, the West African centre for training in humanitarian demining at Ouidah, and thus to consolidate our collaboration with HAMAP HEALTHCARE BENIN in this area.

2) To meet Sister Elisabeth Gbaguidi of the Saints Anges Leper Hospital in Ouidah, and to assess the sanitation requirements of that institution.

3) To formulate a plan of action and a strategy for improving the sanitary conditions of the poorest inhabitants of Benin.

Alain Gnahoui and his team conducted medical consultations for the destitute, and visited family homes and inland areas. On these occasions, they saw for themselves that Benin is sorely lacking in healthcare personnel, laboratory testing equipment, medicines, drinking water and basic hygiene facilities. There is room for HAMAP HEALTHCARE and its partners to make a real difference to the lives of some of this country’s people.

Alain Gnahoui and the five doctors on his team, which included a paediatrician, worked at one hospital and one health centre (on the outskirts of Cotonou). They delivered some 200 kg of medicines, tongue depressors, gloves, stethoscopes and height gauges to these institutions. We owe a debt of gratitude to our hosts and their colleagues for the great welcome they gave HAMAP HEALTHCARE.

These two healthcare facilities, run by the charitable sector, do excellent work, despite the insecure conditions in which they operate and their almost total lack of resources. Very few patients leave without a hearing, and some assistance, even if they are unable to pay for the consultation. Problem-solving is always the order of the day in Benin’s healthcare facilities. They offer us a wonderful example of solidarity and generosity.

This first mission allowed delegates to meet and hold talks with:

1) Lieutenant-Colonel Gilles Canin, the head of CPADD, in Ouidah, which is French-speaking Africa’s only centre for training in humanitarian demining. CPADD trains the region’s future deminers, both military and civilian. The centre is located within the military camp at Ouidah.

2) Sister Elisabeth Gbaguidi is responsible for the Saint Anges Leper Hospital in Ouidah. She is an enthusiastic and dynamic woman, with many projects for the leper hospital. The first of these projects involves the hospital’s laboratory for medical analyses. This laboratory is the only one in the region, which has 350,000 inhabitants, and receives patients from up to 100km away. It conducts more than 15,000 tests each year. There are two pieces of equipment (one automated analyzer and one spectrophotometer) which need to be renovated as soon as possible, if they are not to wear out. The automated analyzer requires two vats (one for reagents, one for medical waste) to make it fully functional. These vats will have to be sought in France.
The spectrophotometer only requires reagents, which are available for purchase in Benin.
They can be acquired through M. Pierre of the OMEGA laboratories in Cotonou. In the medium term, we will have to a find a way to make the reagents self-financing. The provisional budget for modernization of laboratory equipment and staff training was 100,000 euros. The modernization project remains on-going: it was due to begin in May 2009.
The second project involves drilling a well for drinking water. There is in fact already a well at the hospital, but it was abandoned more than 30 years ago and is now too dilapidated to be restored. It has therefore been decided to drill a new well, which would supply better, healthier drinking water. An experienced local well-driller has been contacted for a quote.
The thrid project involves the leper hospital’s pharmacy. It requires a supply of low cost medicines.
The fourth project involves on-site facilities for patients, above all those with leprosy. It would be good to make an area available to able-bodied patients and their families that they could use for physical exercise and gardening.

Good luck to the whole HAMAP BENIN team. More in the weeks and months to come...

Publication : June 2009

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