At a rural hospital, lack of funding for maintaining resources can be deadly. The NRU, or Nutritional Rehabilitation Ward, at Kabudula Community Hospital was in such a state of disrepair that it was rendered unusable. Even though 10-15% of children that are admitted to the hospital are malnutritioned and need extended treatment time in the NRU, the ward was often vacant since the space was "uninhabitable." "It is dank and musty and no place for an ill child," said one nurse. Malnutritioned children are especially susceptible to illness, and so require a sanitary area away from other sick patients. Beyond the ward's physical disrepair, there were no facilities to cook the life-sustaining supplementary nutrition formula required for these kids. The unit also lacked toilets, sinks, electricity, beds or mattresses to sleep on. Given the disarray, the ward did not provide the necessary conditions for hospital-based re-feeding and nutrition. Once malnourishment gets to the state of malnutrition, it requires extended, careful, medical care. Many of the children who ended up leaving the hospital too early, often in very vulnerable states of health, died in their communities due to a simple lack of resources and funding to refurbish the unit.
Although Kabudula's Hospital-In-Charge Aubrey Nsunza knew that the NRU needed a major overhaul, there was no money at all for such a project from the Malawian Health Ministry, which often cannot even deliver essential medicines for the 600 patients seen daily by the bustling rural hospital.
Enter Warm Heart for Africa, a Dutch educational non-profit working in the Kabudula Area with whom WAM has partnered in the past. Warm Heart had a very generous donor in the Netherlands who wished to help the hospital. After discussions with the Kabudula hospital staff, community, Warm Heart, and WAM, the NRU refurbishment project was born. WAM managed the project and was fortunate enough to find a resourceful and efficient contractor who worked with donated bricks and labor from the community.
The problem of malnutrition is one of the top five cause of child death in Malawi. Aside from the lethal impact, many others experience malnutrition's chronic impact. According to the World Health Organization, 46% of children under five have growth stunting, 21% percent are underweight, and 4% have wasting. If a malnutritioned child gets malaria, pneumonia, or diarrhea, the effects can very easily be lethal. This means that malnutrition is a base factor involved in death and disability from many other types of illnesses.
Kabudula Community Hospital serves a health area of over 300,000 people. Now, thanks a generous donor, this population has adequate resources for treating malnutritioned children. With the donation, we were able to hire a skilled contractor to: extend the space to accommodate more patients, install plumbing, toilets, and sinks, greatly improve the cooking space for guardians of the children, raise the roof and increase the window size and number for better ventilation and light, install electricity, and refurbish, plaster, and paint the existing walls. With help from the community, and other WAM donors, we were able to clean up the unit, and make it a beneficial space to heal. Thanks to our ongoing donors, we will be able to purchase supplies necessary for the re-feeding process, along with the other regular support we offer the hospital. We are greatly appreciative to the donor, and look forward to the unit's continued success.