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Hospital struggles to get on amid scarcity of maternity beds

Hospital struggles to get on amid scarcity of maternity beds

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By Olimatou Coker

The Bundung Maternal and Child Health Hospital is among the biggest hospitals in The Gambia. Since its founding, it continues to receive a large number of inpatients daily, however, insufficient beds at its Maternity Ward is now affecting the smooth and day-to-day running of the hospital. Officials there have said that the Covid-19 pandemic is a contributing factor to issues they are confronted with.

The situation has forced nurses including antenatal mothers to call on government to expand the labor ward and alleviate the issue. They lamented lack of maternity beds and facemasks as their biggest constraints.

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Majula T Kinteh, a senior nursing officer at the hospital, said in one instance, three women who delivered shared a single bed with their babies.

She said although that violated social distancing rules, they had little choice. 

She said the combination of the antenatal and post-antenatal wards has congested the hospital. She said the beds in the wards are no longer enough for the patients.

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“It’s not that we don’t have beds, it’s the capacity that is very small. That’s our main problem. All we are seeking from the ministry through the government is the expansion of the labor ward to be able to have more beds for a good service delivery,” she appealed.

She said in October, the hospital recorded 629 deliveries, even though it had limited beds at the time.

“We want the entire Gambia to understand our challenges. It’s true that everyone likes to deliver at Bunding maternal hospital but that cannot continue anymore. We only have four to five doctors that are taking care of this. To deliver 629 babies every month is tiring for the staff. They have families. They sacrifice their lives and everything for these women.”

Ms Kinteh said she was speaking out because the Gambian media needed to know issues they are confronted with.

“We want the media fraternity to know what is happening. The Gambian Women’s Lives Matter movement need to know about what is happening. They cannot just be crying out about Gambian women’s lives outside when they don’t know what the nurses and the health care workers are faced with.”

A mother who delivered a new baby, said the lack of sufficient beds worries them. She said that some of the beds were infected, calling on authorities to assist the hospital.

Two other antenatal mothers there made similar calls.

One man who brought his pregnant wife to the hospital said he chose the Bundung maternal hospital because of its reputation of professionally delivering babies.

“I can’t take my wife to any other hospital,” he said.

Dr Musa Marenah, programme manager, Reproductive Maternity Child and Adolescent Health (RMCAH), said there are plans to resolve the issues affecting the hospital. He said that is why they are training more midwives and nurses in schools.

He said the ministry intends to expand all labor wards across the country.

“I can say that it is not only Bundung hospital that is going through such challenges,” Dr Mareneh said. “This is happening in almost all the hospitals across The Gambia. I went round the country in Bansang, Sukuta and in Kanifing. The situation is the same. It’s not easy to solve all these problems.”

According to Dr Marenah, Bundung has more midwives than Brikama.

He said that the problem with Bundung is that it was never designed to be a hospital. “It was a health post, but later expanded to a hospital.”

To curb the situation there, the mayor of Banjul, Rohey Malick Lowe donated the hospital’s maternity ward with five electronic beds.

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