Burkina Faso, Franciscans in the ward to help the poor and sick

The San Massimiliano Kolbe Centre, the only healthcare reference point for about 110 thousand inhabitants, needs electricity, drinking water and training for medical personnel

Feb 13, 2018

By Luciano Zanardini
To proclaim Christ amid the sick and the poor. “We are simply trying - Father Tomasz Kret tells us - to live as Saint Francis asked us to. And the example of Saint Maximilian Kolbe offers us a special point of view: we must share with others what we have received, offering our time, our hands and our love. God thinks about everything else". In Burkina Faso, in the rural district of Sabou, the San Massimiliano Kolbe Medical Centre has been operating since 2003, offering free assistance to the needy.

Born as a small parish pharmacy, in a short time it turned into a nutritional centre for children that expanded into a hospital reality open to everyone "without distinction of religious and ethnic affiliation". Through the parish, patients who need health assistance but do not have financial means, are selected: they are offered free health care.

"Treatment of HIV sufferers is offered according to a system based on an income analysis. Patients pay between 10 and 90% of the service’s value" Kret explains.

The hospital is the only point of reference for a population of about 110 thousand inhabitants in a social context in which health care is one of the weak points, just think that Burkina Faso ranks 181st in the world (out of 187 nations) in the Human Development Index.The presence of a doctor every 33 thousand inhabitants speaks volumes about the situation of this West African state.

The Kolbe Centre, which is also equipped with an ER, maternity ward and three operating theatres, must deal with the lack of a stable power supply and of drinking water. Among the prospects in the pipeline are the connection to the national electricity line, the construction of a 5000-litre tank and the purchase of a solar pump.

The Franciscan Missionary Centre finances the interventions, but the sustainability of the Hospital is entrusted - as always - to the generosity of donors. In service, day and night, there are about 70 operators including doctors, nurses, caretakers, pharmacists and educators. “We must solve the problem of medical and paramedical professionals shortage and their training, because only by strengthening and training the local staff - Father Tomasz continues - we will be able to cope with the health emergency and re-establish adequate health care: this is the important innovation of the NGO "Emergency Smiles".

Most of our patients experience malaria symptoms, acute respiratory infections, measles, meningitis, diarrhoea or signs of malnutrition. The Franciscans have not lost hope and continue to invest in staff training and dietary education.They have learned to live "every moment with great care so as not to miss opportunities to do good. It's not only the value of life itself that is important, but how we live life".

How to blame them in a country where infant mortality rate is 70 children per 1,000 live births and life expectancy is 56 years.--La Stampa

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