Amanda Mealing swaps Holby City Hospital for Ghana health centres in moving visit with WaterAid

Posted by
Laura Crowley
on
27 March 2019
In
Ghana, Our ambassadors
WaterAid/Eliza Powell WaterAid supporter Amanda Mealing (R) watches as Midwife Faustina (L) carries out a prenatal checkup on expectant mother Azuma in Kassena Nankana West District, Ghana.

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Amanda Mealing, best known for her role as Casualty’s Connie Beauchamp, swapped Holby City Hospital for real life health centres in Ghana on a trip to see how staff and patients cope without clean water and decent sanitation, and the difference WaterAid’s work can make.

Adopted as a baby, Amanda later traced her biological paternal grandparents back to Ghana, so her recent trip also provided a special opportunity to learn more about her heritage and connect with her ancestral roots, as well as trying her hand at some West African dancing.

Amanda visited Kassena-Nankana in the Upper East region of Ghana, where only one in ten health centres have sanitation facilities and nearly half lack access to safe water, increasing the risk of infection, particularly for new mothers and their babies.

She is now sharing her story to encourage the public to support WaterAid’s Water Effect appeal, raising money to help transform health centres around the world.

Amanda said:

“One in three health centres around the world have no clean water. It’s shocking that the very places people go to get better are lacking clean water and toilets – the absolute basics for ensuring good health. 

“In Ghana, I met midwives who wasted precious time collecting water when they should have been treating patients, doctors who were frustrated by not being able to provide the quality of care they wanted to because of the lack of facilities, new mothers who had nowhere to wash after giving birth, and sick children who had to go to the toilet on the ground outside their ward. It’s just not right.

“Clean water and good sanitation are such simple things but so vital. They have the power to transform lives, creating a ripple effect by helping improve health, education and people’s livelihoods.”

Midwife Faustina Sedjoah made a lasting impression on Amanda, with her sheer passion for her work and inspiring determination in the face of a challenging environment. She works at Katiu Community Health Centre, which has no decent toilet or water supply. The water from the nearby borehole isn’t clean and it also dries up in the dry season, meaning Faustina has to walk to a school to share their borehole. Fetching water takes up a lot of her time and means she doesn’t have enough water to give to patients or to keep the health centre clean and hygienic. 

Faustina, 36, told Amanda: 

“We cannot provide quality care here as a result of the poor facilities, and our clients don’t have confidence in us because the place is dirty. I feel so frustrated with the situation. If we got running water in the facility, I wouldn’t have to waste time collecting it and could just focus on my clients, and if we had a toilet in the health centre, it would help prevent infection.”

In Paga Health Centre, Amanda visited a paediatric ward that was recently built without any toilets. Sick children go just outside the ward to defecate on the ground in the open. The health staff worry this is causing diseases to spread, and a child may come in with one illness, and leave with another. Decent toilets in the ward would be a simple change that would make a huge difference.

Amanda also visited Busongo Community Health Centre, where WaterAid has helped introduce a piped water supply, toilets and showers, as well as improving the water facility for the community. She met a resident Mary Ayamga, who spoke of the challenges she faced giving birth to her son Nathaniel before WaterAid worked at the health centre, and recently saw the difference made by clean water and sanitation when she returned to accompany her sister who was in labour.

Mary, 21, said:

“It was very hard when I gave birth here. There was no water so my sister had to walk for 15 minutes to the borehole, where there was a long queue so she wasn’t around to support me. After the labour, I washed out in the open where people could see me and went outside to relieve myself. I tried to cover myself, but felt exposed. 

“When I accompanied my sister here to give birth, I was very happy that water and toilets have now arrived. I felt close to her as I could help during her labour and didn’t have to go far to collect water. She could then wash off the blood in a washroom after delivering, rather than having to go outside. 

“The water facility in the community has also improved. Before, we had to queue for a long time for water, but now don’t spend much time collecting water as there are several taps and can spend more time with my children and working.” 

Amanda added:

“It is simply unacceptable that health care staff do not have running water and a decent toilet inside their centres. I’ve seen first-hand the immense difference clean water and good sanitation can make in health centres, helping create a safe environment for patients. Through WaterAid’s Water Effect appeal, we can help people like Faustina and her community have a healthier, brighter future.”

Find out more about The Water Effect and donate at www.wateraid.org/uk/water-effect

Ends

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View film: https://youtu.be/v2CqG1RuYiw

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Notes to Editors:

WaterAid

WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 26.4 million people with clean water and 26.3 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org/uk, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • 844 million people in the world – one in nine – do not have clean water close to home.[1]

  • 2.3 billion people in the world – almost one in three – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]

  • Around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's more than 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]

  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]

  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[5]

  • To find out if countries are keeping their promises on water and sanitation, see the online database www.WASHwatch.org

 

[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[3] washwatch.org

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage

[5] www.wateraid.org/uk