“When our health centre gets water, we can make sure anyone coming here doesn't risk contracting an infection, or returning home sick.”
Dr Martin Koné heads up a team of three health professionals working in a rural healthcare centre in Talo, Mali. Previously, he worked in a hospital with good water and sanitation facilities. But when he was transferred to Talo, he had to adapt to working in conditions without clean or running water, toilets or hygiene provision.
Martin, his team and their patients are at the heart of our current appeal, The Water Effect. Donations from members of the public are already at work there to provide Talo with clean and accessible water, decent toilets, hygiene materials and training.
We caught up with Dr Martin in to get an update on how – or if – life in Talo Health Centre has changed since our last visit.
As usual, I have been going to work. At the end of the year, I went to celebrate Christmas and new year with my family.
The team at Talo Health Centre is doing great. We are more committed than ever to the success of the project, because we know what a change it can have in improving the health of our patients, our working conditions and the lives of our community.
Since WaterAid visited in July, the attendance rate of the health centre has really increased: we’ve had more than 1,600 consultations, coming from all of the seven villages surrounding Talo. [This is because it is currently the rainy season in Mali, so many patients are coming in, sick with malaria.]
And something very exciting has happened: construction of the water tower has begun!
And it is all progressing very fast. We are already receiving hygiene and sanitation training, and the rehabilitation of the health centre has started.
The community is really involved with the project. In December, we held a meeting with the representatives of the different villages to present the upcoming changes, and the project’s activities. In turn, they informed their communities.
The community is thrilled by this change, and we are all eagerly waiting for the final result. That's another reason for the increase in patient visits – people have heard about the construction and want to come and see it for themselves.
I’m feeling very happy about the project, as I’m the first beneficiary – I will be able to take good care of my patients properly, without the fear of infection.
When Talo gets water, caring for patients with diseases will be much easier. It'll mean we can make sure anyone coming here doesn't risk contracting an infection, or returning home sick.
We will also be protected. Our matron will have easier access to water to facilitate the deliveries, as well as being able to maintain good hygiene. This will bring a tremendous change in the way we care for our patients.
So many people have invested their money in our health centre [via donations]. We are so determined to make the best use of these funds.
I’ve seen the pictures and the films for the Water Effect appeal. I’ve even shared them on Facebook with my friends! I found them amazing and I’m so grateful to be part of this. For the first time, I saw myself in the eyes of someone else, which made me realise what a contribution I’m making in changing the lives of our community. I even saw myself on the homepage of WaterAid UK's website!
I saw Drissa two months ago, when he came to get his immunisation shots. He has grown up so fast, he is not a baby anymore. I also get his news from his dad, who visits us on a regular basis.
Thank you for asking for an update – I wish you all a happy 2019!