Samuteb Memorial Hospital, Democratic Republic of Congo
Samuteb Memorial Hospital, originally named Piper Memorial after one of the first founding missionary physicians, was established in 1914 as a way to provide a health ministry ant treat many of the ailments that killed many people in the Kapanga area, such as trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), leprosy, malaria, as well as childhood illnesses like measles and tetanus.
Kapanga is a very isolated mission station/village in Katanga Province. The roads leading to the hospital are virtually non-existent and most local transportation is by foot, bicycle, or motor bike. The hospital is dependant upon small aircraft to deliver supplies and equipment. The rainy season lasts 10 months out of the year and leaves roads virtually impassable. Fourteen buildings comprise the 90-bed hospital campus, not including the school of nursing. Samuteb Hospital serves a population of 212,600 in the surrounding communities, in addition to the 60,000 residents of Kapanga.
Samuteb Memorial Hospital is the only hospital within a 300 kilometer radius (approximately 186 mi.). It supports a referral network of 64 UMC primary health care clinics located in the villages surrounding Kapanga. Dr. Simeon Kashala, a United Methodist missionary and Director of the South Congo Conference Health Board, is the chief medical officer of the hospital. A staff of 88 supports the hospital, including two doctors and 52 nurses.
Each year the hospital delivers more than 2,000 babies, offers care to 5,000 outpatients and provides in-patient services, such as deliveries and surgeries, to almost 4,000 people. The primary ailments attended to at the hospital include malaria, respiratory infections, tuberculosis and malnutrition. The primary services offered at Samuteb Hospital include the following:
- Internal medicine
- Gynecological surgery
- Outpatient care
Samuteb Hospital’s outpatient program includes routine immunizations of children under five-years and prenatal care. In a country where many women die in childbirth and too many children die of preventable illnesses, the outreach programs provided by Samuteb Hospital are critical to the nation’s overall health and development strategy. Samuteb Hospital also provides services and education to combat malaria and HIV/AIDSin addition to other transmittable diseases.
Creating Awareness Bringing Help
The rural population and limited local resources create an extremely difficult environment for health workers. Lack of financial resources and transportation make maintaining equipment and purchasing supplies and medicines very difficult. The Samuteb Hospital staff members continue despite the challenges. The community outreach programs at the hospital reach out to help people prevent illness in the first place. Basic education in local health issues like HIV/AIDS is needed to prevent the spread of the disease and unnecessary ostracism of those living with the illness.
How You Can Help
In such a challenging environment, the need for increased assistance is urgent. If you are interested in meeting specific needs at Samuteb Hospital, contact UMCOR Health.