Through the years Kisangani and the rest of the DRC have suffered with a serious lack of basic healthcare. Close to a million locals inhabiting Kisangani and the villages around it have been enduring malnutrition, a high infant mortality rate and prevailing endemic tropical diseases – with very little medication and medical treatment options available.
Hôpital du Cinquantenaire de Kisangani (Kisangani Hospital) opened its doors in January 2013, after receiving support from the Gertler Family Foundation. Located along the Congo River in one of the world’s biggest rainforests, the hospital is a herald of positive change in healthcare in the DRC. In less than a year it has dramatically contributed to reducing the infant mortality rate and has saved thousands of lives. With a complement of 120 medical staff members and a capacity of 102 beds, Kisangani Hospital is providing unprecedented healthcare to its local population.
The hospital’s Medical Director, Dr Andrè Hattingh, says that meeting the healthcare needs of the region with the hospital is not without challenges. According to Dr Hattingh it is a combination of passion, training and the state-of-the-art equipment, sponsored by the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF), that makes it possible to address the healthcare needs of Kisangani’s population.
Built in 2010, the hospital remained closed due to lack of funds. If it wasn’t for the GFF’s US$2 million injection in 2012, and a further US$1 million soon after, the hospital’s doors may have remained closed indefinitely. Instead, it now provides world-class healthcare, and ensures that its medical professionals remain highly skilled by running an extensive employee training program. Kisangani Hospital brings specialists from all over the world to run courses for local doctors and nurses, and also sends its staff abroad to for learning and development in countries as far away as India.
Serving the Community
Without the Kisangani Hospital mobile inoculation unit, it is not possible for children in rural villages to be inoculated. The hospital has a Level IV ICU, an emergency room, a 24-hour laboratory, the only functional X-ray unit in Kisangani – and can provide advanced trauma life support. Critical patients from everywhere in the province and beyond are served at the hospital’s ICU – most are high risk patients that cannot receive treatment anywhere else.
Because poor patients are treated for free, Kisangani Hospital is providing a desperately needed services to those most in need. Speaking on behalf of the GFF, its co-founder Dan Gertler has said: “Our goal is to support vulnerable people living in the region who previously had limited access to even the most basic healthcare services.”