Clinic Construction in Niger: Construction Almost Completed

by Simone Winneg/SRI,  2008/11/03

"Rome was not built in a day!" This proverb probably best describes the situation of the humedica hospital in Kollo (Niger). After construction work had already been concluded in July, only a few minor details, the finishing touches as it were, remained to be done.

A wall around a tap that needs plastering here, a creaking door that requires a bit of oiling there, a jammed window or a leaking tap - minor things, which nevertheless need to be done for a proper finalisation of construction.

It took some time for these to be taken care of, but now, we are finally there: Last week, craftsmen resumed work on the clinic and the interior finishings have meanwhile almost been completed. The clinic building is bustling with activity, bricks have to made from cement and sand, there is a lot of digging and shovelling going on, and in the coming days new foundations will be laid for the incinerator and the separate refuse pit.

The construction site for the planned refuse pit and incinerator. Photo: humedica

These two construction measures we consider particularly important, because refuse disposal practice of hospitals here in Niger is often contrary to regulations and can create great risks: syringes, canulas, empty vials and other disposable materials are just dumped anywhere ... Children and animals play with them and sometimes eat the soiled or even toxic wastes.

For humedica, this construction measure had high priority, in order to ensure that such a risk is avoided in our clinic, to protect children from the danger of contamination and to set a good example in environmental protection. With the help of our partner organisation HIS (Hosanna Institute du Sahel), we were finally able to tackle this essential point.

The hook-up to the power supply is now almost complete. Since the utility company NIGELEC also needed its time and material here is not always available, we had to wait very long to be linked to the local grid.

Without any technical support, the men dug a trench 1 meter deep and some 90 meters long, in oder to establish the hook-up between the clinic building and the metre. The cable was lowered into the trench, covered with a red plastic grill (for protection against future construction works) and completely covered with sand again.

The construction works take time, like everything here in Niger. Registration has been in its final stages for well over a month now. Patience is the prime virtue which is called for here. Even though, in an attempt to speed up the process, we closely follow up on every step, procedures are again and again bogged down by red tape.

Photo: humedica

Our clinic registration documents, after having travelled through various hands, were brought from the capital Niamey to the regional administration in Tillaberi (130 km away), where they were required to be reviewed and signed by the local representative of the Ministry of Health.

At this occasion, we were able to meet the governor and call on him personally. From there, back to to the Ministry in Niamey and to the office that roughly corresponds to the medical association in our country. Signatures needed to be procured, missing documents applied for or subsequently handed in. With every additional stamp, all the documents needed to be re-checked in the respective departments, passing from one official's desk to the other.

That requires a lot of time and many phone calls, to keep reminding the ministry clerks of our request. Completion of the registration process is only one signature away now, which means only a few more weeks of patience. By German standards, this processing period may seem long, but in Africa things just move at a slower pace. All one can do is wait, even though so little is necessary for the clinic to finally start operating.

Thanks to humedica and other donations, we have been able to purchase medical drugs, equipment, technical apparatus and furniture which, in great part, have already arrived. The gynaecological examination room is fully equipped and ready for use. The staff has been selected and we are in the final stages of negotiations.

While it is often difficult to accept that things here move so slowly and that so much time has to be invested into so many tiny steps, it is also encouraging when, for a change, something makes swift headway and one can actually see progress.

Particularly now, shortly after the rainy season, health risks in the population run high: Malaria is at the moment a very common illness that can affect anybody. Particularly for pregnant women and childen, the effects can be disastrous. So it is all the more important and necessary that the help that humedica can provide them with this hospital reaches them as soon as possible.

We look expectantly to the near future and hope that within the coming two or three weeks all construction work will have been completed and the Ministry of Health finally issues the registration. I look forward to the day when our clinic is no longer filled with the bustle of electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, glaziers and decorators, but when we can support the local residents mit medical personnel and quality treatment.

In this sense, thank you so much for your support, which has made all this possible in the first place. Best wishes and God bless.

Simone Winneg in Kollo (Niger)

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

Update my browser now×