The establishment of the hospital marked 100 years of MMS medical work and 21 years of MAYC. Cyril Bennett and Frank Davey, Finance and Medical Secretaries of MMS, responded to the local church's request and linked the project to MAYC.
MAYC raised £180,000 and provided skilled volunteers who worked with local villagers on the construction, under the supervision of a British engineer. Training of nurses and technical staff was started. The first patients were received in April 1968 and the Head of State officially opened the hospital in October. The initial staff consisted of 11 expatriates - missionaries and volunteers – and over 100 Africans.
The hospital quickly acquired a high reputation, and some patients came over 600 miles, queuing over each weekend and establishing a settlement in the grounds. With two doctors and five qualified nurses the hospital carried out over 1000 consultations each week – rising to 2000 by 1975. The emphasis was on out-patient services (including surgery) and outreach, and initially only 21 beds were opened. A team visited surrounding villages, each of which formed a health committee and provided health workers. Prevention – including immunization and nutrition - was always a priority.
Later, Côte d'Ivoire government grants allowed fees to be kept low and children to be treated free. The number of doctors grew from two to seven, and the beds to 106 (more than half for children). As intended, African staff progressively replaced expatriates, the last of whom left in 1996.
The collapse of cash crop prices, the advent of HIV and civil war were disastrous for the country and made it impossible for the hospital to continue its subsidised services. It nevertheless 'reinvented' itself to meet the new circumstances, helped by specialist support from elsewhere in Europe, and remains a highly respected centre of quality care.
Entry written by: PHS
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