Mali, one of Africa’s poorest countries, faces numerous health challenges related to poverty, malnutrition, and inadequate sanitation. Mali’s health and development indicators rank among the worst in the world.
The below is a brief story of how the community of Ngomi, a small village in Mali Africa, built and sustained their own medical clinic with the help of the founders of Opening Doors Worldwide, Paul and Cindi March.
While Paul and Cindi were traveling through Mali, they found themselves in the city of Mopti. Their guide on their tour explained to them that his home village, Ngomi (pronounced “know-me”) was only 7 miles away and that he would be seeing his family that night. They asked if they could visit his village also. The village was not reachable by car, only by boat or cart. They rented a boat and traveled the 7 miles up the dirty Niger River from Mopti to Ngomi.
With a population of 3,000 people, Ngomi has no electricity, no sewage, no school, and dirt floors in every house and on every walkway. The people, most of whom are fishermen, live day-to-day on the $3-4/day they earn from fishing.
The children were covered with dust and obviously malnourished, easily seen by the loss of color in their hair and protruding bellies. Yet all they wanted to do was to hold Paul and Cindi’s hands and play, always with smiles on their faces.
During their visit, Paul and Cindi learned that children are delivered day or night on the dirt floors of their mud houses. There are no really safe or clean cloths to wrap the newborns in, as all clothing is washed in the river. There is no pre-natal or post-natal care for the mothers. Complicated deliveries that need hospital services to save the lives of the baby or mother need to go to Mopti by boat or cart, and pay $100 on arrival for the services, a sum that very few could afford.
10% of all newborns therefore do not survive their birth or the first several days thereafter, and another 10% die in the first year of their life.
Not unexpectedly, maternal mortality was equally as horrendous. Injured or ill children and adults also had to travel to Mopti for care. As a physician, Paul was appalled by the poor conditions and lack of medical services. Before leaving Mopti, he and Cindi met with the village elders and devised a plan to build a maternity clinic for Ngomi.
The Ngomi Maternity & Medical Clinic was constructed on donated land by the villagers using hand made bricks. A trusted village elder, Mr. Amadou Kone used the donated funds to complete the building and purchase needed supplies, equipment, and medications. Two nurse midwives were hired to staff the clinic 24/7.
In order to make the clinic self-sustaining, three boats were purchased and are being used to generate income from the ferrying of river sand to a drop off for a cement factory. There is now enough income produced to pay the salaries of the nurses, buy replacement supplies, and pay the wages of the men operating the boats.
Mr. Kone continues to oversee the operation of the clinic. Since its inception, the clinic has seen the delivery of hundreds of babies. The neo-natal mortality is under 2%. Since money is now available for women needing to be transferred to Mopti for their high risk deliveries and complications, maternal mortality has dropped equally.
But success has its price as well. Being between several villages further upstream and the city of Mopti, Ngomi is a logical stopping point for those seeking medical assistance. The Ngomi Maternity & Medical Clinic now serves a population of over 20,000. The nurse midwives are asked to handle medical illnesses as well as provide obstetrical, neonatal, and maternal care. The nurses are in need of relief and the clinic, being only 2 rooms, does not have enough space to handle everyone. Women in labor have to wait for the one clean delivery table and one post-delivery bed. A larger facility is needed, with more hands to man it. That means more supplies, equipment, and medications.
Your donations will help to expand this program and bring it to service all the needs of surrounding villagers. Help us support the Ngomi Maternity and Medical Clinic!
Before Opening Doors Worldwide built a maternity clinic for us, so many of our newborns and their mothers were dying during the birth because we did not have a clean place to deliver our babies or a midwife to help us. Nobody had ever cared for us before. Now, with medicines and nutrition for pregnant mothers and vaccines for babies, our children are living and their mothers are surviving. Thank you Opening Doors Worldwide for building Ngomi Maternity and Medical clinic for us!