Reducing infant mortality among gastric patients in Egypt
Dr. Nabil Abdel Aziz (second from left) and other medical staff of the Abou El Reesh Children’s Hospital in Cairo, Egypt, estimates the new equipment could reduce the gastric mortality rate by two percentage points, saving hundreds of lives each year. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Helipolis, Egypt
Rotarians in Egypt and the United States are helping doctors at a pediatric hospital in Cairo save the lives of hundreds of premature babies each year through the gift of lifesaving neonatal equipment.
Using a Rotary Foundation grant, the Rotary clubs of Heliopolis, Egypt, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, purchased several pieces of equipment for the intensive care unit of the Abou El Reesh Children’s Hospital, for use in its gastroenterological department.
The hospital treats 1 million patients per year and suffers from overcrowding and lack of equipment. Most of the hospital’s patients are from poor or underserved families. The mortality rate has reached 25 percent among all patients and 5 percent for gastric patients.
Wanting to reduce the number of infant deaths, the Heliopolis Rotarians asked the hospital’s doctors how they could help. The club, with its Minneapolis partner club, applied for a Foundation grant and raised funds for the US$23,000 project, which purchased a defibrillator, ventilator, infusion pump, syringe pump, and diagnostic devices.
The Rotarians also advised hospital staff on how to use and maintain the equipment. They plan to conduct a monthly health session to promote proper sanitation and nutrition. The project falls within Rotary’s maternal and child health area of focus.
“Our first objective for this project was to make an impact to improve child and maternal health and reduce child mortality,” says Ayoub Mahmoud Ayoub, a member of the Heliopolis club and the Rotary public image coordinator for Zone 20B. “Our second objective was to promote Rotary’s good work.”
Ayoub says a service project like this can raise awareness of Rotary. In Egypt, the public lacks knowledge, and in some cases is even skeptical, about the organization. Changing that perception, he says, is important.
“Our mission with this project and future undertakings is to show that Rotarians help those in need,” he added.
Nabil Abdel Aziz, the head pediatrician in the gastroenterology unit, praises Rotary’s efforts in reducing child mortality. He estimates the new equipment could reduce the gastric mortality rate by two percentage points, saving hundreds of lives each year.
“Without the support of Rotary, deaths of infants could have been far higher,” says Aziz. “Rotary represents the bright face of humanity. This type of international support and understanding is what Egypt needs now.”
“They gave more than just the equipment,” he adds. “They have given parents, many who are poor, hope that their children are going to be taken care of.”
The intensive care unit is still in need of additional equipment to serve all of its patients in the neonatal unit. Ayoub said the club plans to apply for other Foundation grants and raise more money with international partners to fill some of those needs by 2015.