Mali: Gao hospital operational again

10-05-2012 Operational Update No 06/12

Access to health care is a major challenge for people in northern Mali affected by armed violence. In Gao the hospital is operational again thanks to the efforts of the ICRC, which among other things has delivered surgical supplies.

"Only a few weeks ago, the hospital was deserted by its personnel and looted. It did not have water or electricity, because there was no fuel to run its generator," said Attaher Maiga, the head of the ICRC office in Gao. "People living in and around Gao were in considerable distress. There were pregnant women who died because they could not obtain suitable care, and victims of gunshot wounds who found themselves in appalling circumstances."

Today, 10 May, the ICRC is delivering to the hospital a large quantity of surgical supplies brought in from Niamey, in neighbouring Niger. This aid is in addition to two deliveries of medicines and medical supplies to Gao that took place in April. Altogether, enough aid has been supplied to care for nearly 500 patients suffering from illness and around 100 requiring treatment for injury. The return of some hospital staff made it possible for the ICRC to support the resumption of activities in the hospital, which is the referral medical facility for the entire region.

As soon as the first days of violence and looting had passed, the ICRC and the Mali Red Cross realised the extent of the devastation in Gao's hospital. In order to restore and maintain the hospital's independent power supply and drinking water production, the ICRC has been supplying fuel for the generator since 12 April.

Over the past few days, two doctors and a nurse have arrived to bolster the staff made available to the hospital by the ICRC. A nurse and a midwife had already been working there for a month. In addition, a surgeon and an anaesthetist were in the hospital from 21 to 24 April to assess needs.

Thanks to the efforts of the health-care personnel and support from the ICRC, Gao hospital is up and running again. Between 12 April and 9 May, around 1,200 patients were seen by the staff, including nearly 230 expectant mothers. A total of 93 deliveries, including 18 caesarians, were performed. In addition, over 460 children were provided with care, mainly for diarrhoeal diseases or malaria. During the same period, nine wounded patients underwent emergency surgery.

For further information, please contact:
Germain Mwehu, ICRC Niamey, tel: +227 97 45 43 82
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 20 11 or +41 79 536 92 50