A HIGH DEPENDENCY UNIT FOR CHILDREN
The Fleur de Lys Foundation started working with Birmingham Children's Hospital (BCH) in 2006 when our Regent Hermione was working there.
They had formed a BCH-Malawi link fund to help establish a children's section at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Blantyre. The idea was to bring medical and nursing staff over to BCH for training and to send staff from BCH over to Malawi to help train there as well.
Dr. Amanda Goldstein, Hermione Montgomery & Nurse Phoebe
There was also a requirement for equipment and the Foundation started supplying equipment and has continued to do so. One of the first things were knitted hats, jackets and blankets for the neonates and heaters for the babies’ room.
The Foundation commissioned the Uttoxeter U3A knitting group to knit these and regular shipments have been made ever since.
We have also supplied nasogastric tubes, monitoring equipment and nurses fob watches over the years.
For the last few years this link funding has been taken over by friends of sick children in Malawi, who control the funds on the ground and with whom we are working on the present project to build a High Dependency Unit (HDU) in Malawi.
Friends of Sick Children in Malawi
Malawi is one of the poorest nations in the World where 50% of the population are 18 years or under i.e. they are children. [UK - 25%]
For many years the lack of any paediatric healthcare services gave rise to shockingly high baby, infant and child mortality rates; some of the worst in the World.
For example: 1 in 5 children admitted to hospital died there*.
Until independence in 1964 Malawi was The British Protectorate of Nyasaland, a creation that had much to do with medical doctor, intrepid explorer and Christian missionary David Livingstone.
Mostly in the new 21st century, a project by ex-pat British and Dutch academic medical consultants set about creating and developing, from a zero base, a sustainable paediatric healthcare service in Malawi.
Sustainability in this context means that Malawians would be trained in their own country to world standards as paediatricians and paediatric nurses and clinical officers. These Malawians would gradually be in a position to take forward, lead and manage their own nation’s paediatric healthcare breaking the dependency upon outside help, greatly reducing the medical ‘brain drain’, and making the service sustainable.
The project ‘home’ is within Malawian’s largest State hospital, The Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre with strong links into - and with - The University of Malawi, Medical School and The Kamuzu College of Nursing.
Friends of Sick Children in Malawi (FOSCiM) is a UK registered charity set up to support the ‘medics’ at the frontline in providing paediatric healthcare and meeting the overall objectives. Raising funds and ‘marketing’ the project through a website is the main focus.
The on-site medics set up a locally registered charity, Friends of Sick Children (FOSC) to receive the support of FOSCiM to keep it out with the State system.
Much progress has been made with the overall objectives...
*20 years on and less than 1 in 20 children admitted to hospital die there.
... but with such progress comes ever more challenges and more needs in such a resource poor environment as Malawi.
In the absence of primary healthcare such as the UK enjoys – i.e. GP practices, the front door of the hospital is the healthcare entry point and the Paediatric Unit (Paeds) sees some 100,000 children each year. There is no High Dependency Unit (HDU) available for really sick children and one is badly needed.
Fortunately, there is a vacant ward within the part of the QECH that is occupied by Paeds., so a costly new build will not be required.
The cost to bring this abandoned ward up to HDU standards has been estimated at some £50,000.
The State is effectively donating the ward. Charitable funds must be raised from outside the State system to bring an HDU into existence in that space.
A Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed between The Order of the Fleur De Lys Foundation and the QECH but progress on the project ceased at the beginning of 2020 with Covid-19 impacting both the Order’s meetings schedule and fundraising activities, and the focus of healthcare in Malawi.
Currently (mid-July 2020) Covid-19 is on a sharp increase in Malawi from a low base so healthcare human resources are very much focussed on the virus. The need for an HDU is even more obvious than before Covid-19 and it is hoped that the project can get back on track soon.