The new hospital was opened in Monkey Bay, Malawi and attended by the Malawian First Lady, Mrs. Callista Muthrika, as well as MPs and other high-ranking officials and regional leaders.
Minister for Foreign Affairs - Össur Skarphéðinsson. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
The new hospital will serve an area inhabited by 125,000 residents and is the largest individual project in aid development Iceland has been involved in and has been ongoing since the year 2000.
ICEIDA helped to set up fountains in an area in which cholera is pandemic, and Össur declared in the ceremony that Iceland would continue to support projects guaranteeing the local residents access to clean water.
A cholera breakout occurred 100 to 200 times a year before 2008, but not a single case has been reported in areas where the Icelandic Water Fountain Project came into full effect, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs quoted on Rúv.is.
Össur thanked Malawi for the 23 years of cooperation with ICEIDA and vowed that Iceland would continue to support the poorest of Malawi’s inhabitants.
In his speech, he presented a four-year plan for increased contribution to healthcare and education projects in the Mangochi-region as well as water and hygiene issues.
The official statement from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs reads:
“A large crowd celebrated at the opening. The hospital will lead to a revolution in the regional healthcare service. The hospital will have an outpatient ward, surgical ward and maternity ward. The rate of children’s mortality and mothers’ death during childbirth has decreased significantly thanks to the work by ICEIDA. The construction of the hospital commenced in 2000 and Icelandic consultants consulted the regional government in matters concerning the construction work and management. Among the consultants were the former and the present surgeon generals.”
The minister has toured Malawi with Engilbert Guðmundsson, the Director General of the Icelandic International Development Agency (ICEIDA) over the last few days, and viewed the work the organization does in the country.
Össur visited the clinic in Nankumba-region where basic healthcare services are provided such as distribution of medication for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, as well as a maternity ward. On average, three children are born per day in areas where the distance to the nearest hospital is great.
Össur also took time to see the water project in action in areas where locals have been assisted in the construction of fountains to provide access to clean water. Clean water is the key in disease prevention, mbl.is reports.