Comic Relief today announces a brand new, and life-changing, project that’s never been done before for Red Nose Day. ‘Operation Health for Comic Relief’ is an ambitious mission which will see a run down, dilapidated clinic in Eastern Uganda renovated by a local team into a fully functioning healthcare facility during the Red Nose Day campaign, completed by 6th March.
Iyolwa clinic serves almost 20,000 people in the local community, with around 1,450 patients visiting per month. It has been functioning for years with no power or running water, a ceiling on the verge of collapse, rodent and insect infestations and medical equipment that is outdated and inadequate. Women have given birth by the light of mobile phones and sometimes patients have feared for their lives because of the caving ceiling.
This Red Nose Day campaign, Comic Relief will be working with people in the local community to transform this clinic from somewhere people are scared to visit into a facility with running water, solar power, a stable structure and equipment that means people can be treated safely.
But it doesn’t end there. This clinic is a symbol of the wider healthcare issues facing thousands of communities across Africa – a continent where 500 women per day die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, where malaria kills one child under the age of five every minute and diarrhoea is responsible for 12% of deaths in children under five. This project aims to shine a spotlight on some of these issues, and in the process raise money to improve healthcare for communities across Africa, from training medical staff to providing life-saving vaccines and mosquito nets.
Lenny Henry visited the clinic in November last year and was shocked by what he saw. He said: “This clinic can only be described as awful. It was so dark in there I could barely see where I was going and yet babies are delivered in there every week. Hornets swoop down from the crumbling roof and sting the patients as they are being treated. The staff are incredible, determined and passionate, but they need help to be able to give their community the help it really needs.”
Lenny will visit again, along with other celebrities throughout the project, to witness the transformation as the work gets under way. Some may even pitch in to help the local effort, which will see 89 skilled local workers use 74,800 bricks, 32,500kg of cement and 580sqm of corregated iron to unveil a brand new clinic to serve Iyolwa community for generations to come.
The public can follow the progress of ‘Operation Health for Comic Relief’ on BBC Radio 1, Radio 1Xtra, The One Show and a one hour documentary to be broadcast on BBC One in early March. Donations can be made at www.rednoseday.com/operationhealth