EUROPE/ITALY - ST JOHN OF GOD HOSPITALLER ORDER SERVES POOR SICK CHILDREN IN AFRICA
Rome (Fides Service) – The Italian charity association “Uniti per Tanguieta e Afagnan” UTA supports hospitals in Tanguieta in Togo and Afagnan in Benin opened respectively in 1961 and 1970 by the Italian Lombardo-Veneta province of St John of God Hospitaller Order. The hospital in Afagnan in Lome diocese has 200 beds while the one in Tanguieta is famous for its ongoing commitment in the struggle against numerous infectious diseases which strike children. Many children are paralysed in the legs after poliomyelitis and the main purpose of both these hospitals is to put them technically back on their feet and help them to walk. This requires time and several operations and most families are so poor that they cannot make even the symbolic contribution requested by the hospitals of the poor or they can only give it for 10/15 days whereas the treatments lasts for at least six months. Hence the idea of the association to help poor patients. On the occasion of the Uniti per Tanguieta e Afagnan feast day on 15 June, we spoke to Brother Luca Beato, vice president of the association who has just returned from Africa: “I have just returned from Africa where I went, with my confrere Brother Luigi Calala, first to Aeera in Ghana for a week long meeting on the Missions of our St John of God Hospitaller Order which are numerous: In Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America; then I went to visit the hospitals we support with the UTA, that is Afagnan in Togo Tanguieta and Porga in Benin.
The hospital in Afagnan is in difficulty at the moment because the chief surgeon left. I was dismayed to see the large polio wards deserted. Let’s hope a solution is soon found. In Tanguieta instead I saw forty polio patients and in the children’s ward besides 80 regular beds, I counted 55 mothers and children lying on mats in the large adjacent corridor. This is the normal situation, I was told. I visited also the feeding centre for undernourished children. We also visited a Catholic elementary school in Tanguieta where we were welcomed triumphantly by an army of children and three teaching Sister. The children are 144: two infant classes, two large first and second elementary classes. At Porga building of Maternity and Children’s wards has almost finished. The Prior, Brother Olivier, told me of a project to grow medicinal herbs including herbs said to cure AIDS. The son of the late village-chief, recently gave the Order four hectares of land for this project to grow medicinal herbs.
The main problems afflicting African hospitals are economic and financial, Brother Beato concluded. AP (Fides Service 13/6/2003 EM lines 37 Words: 491)
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