Renovation and Extension of the Peripheral Mother-Child Unit Thallala, Matara District
June 18, 2005
"Visiting the refugee camps which were established following the tsunami, we were regularly confronted with the insufficient medical supply at the camps as well as at the hospitals. The few hospitals, which had not been damaged or completely demolished by the tsunami, did not have enough capacity for all the injured people and were in urgent need of medicine and medical supply."
"Aside from the fact that the people in the Southern District do not even have the basic necessities in life anymore, there is an urgent need of upgrading the health sector in this area, especially regarding childcare. None of the rural hospitals have a proper child and maternal ward with sufficient equipment. The pregnant mothers or parents have to travel long distances with their sick children to the next hospital."
– Sylvia Merkle, Sri Lanka
We met Sylvia Merkle at one of the orphanages in Sri Lanka that we were evaluating for Real Medicine. Sylvia is the chairperson of Sunil's Friends Kinderhilfe, Sri Lanka e.V., a nonprofit organization founded 1994 in Germany. Their mission is to give under-privileged children in Sri Lanka, especially orphans and abandoned children, a better life. Sunil's Friends have grown into an efficient and experienced child aid organization during the last ten years, helping children regardless of their origin, ethnical background or religion and without any political interest.
Sylvia brought the following project to our attention and we decided to support it through the Real Medicine Foundation.
Peripheral Mother-Child Unit Thallala, Matara District, Sri Lanka
Main building from the outside
Dr. Shanty and two midwives
Information for new parents
Pregnancy growth chart
Additional building, outside
Additional building, inside
We met with Dr. Shanty, the gynecologist/obstetrician in charge. She reported that at this point, with very limited tools, personnel and capacities, she is holding two clinics per week, seeing 40 to 50 patients per clinic. And, although her patients love working with her, only 1 to 2 mothers per month deliver their babies under her supervision, since the facilities don't allow deliveries any more. There have not been any repairs since the year 1976, so the problems are exotic: The buildings have neither doors nor windows, which invites monkeys to come into the building and destroy mattresses and furniture, and steal the food the mothers bring. There is no privacy or safety for the mothers if they decide to stay. So, most of the highly expectant mothers travel long distances to the next hospitals in Dikwella or Matara to deliver their babies.
Main entrance for outpatients
Dr. Shanty still sees as many patients as possible on an outpatient basis, examining them and giving out medication. The day we visited her, June 18, 2005, after just having seen 100 patients that day, she received the bad news, that out of her three midwives, two were called to Dikwella, since her facilities didn't warrant them to stay.
The Ministry of Health and the local health authorities confirmed the urgent need of upgrading some of the rural hospitals in the Matara district. They have already developed a master plan for the restoration and improvement of health care institutions in this area. According to this plan, the Periphal Unit in Thalalla needs urgently to be renovated and upgraded in order to relief the Matara General hospital. The Ministry of Health and the local health authorities are ready to sign the MOU for this project. With the renovation and upgrading of the facilities, more extensive medical personnel would be provided.