As the nation flocks to buy the Band Aid 20 single raising millions for famine relief in Africa, those a little closer to home are proving that you don?t have to be a superstar to make a real difference to the lives of people struggling to survive against the odds.

Jane Morgan, Edge Hill senior lecturer in midwifery research is preparing to visit a new maternity hospital in Rwanda, built with funds raised by her own parish of St Luke?s Church in Formby.

The two-week trip, planned for January, forms part of Jane?s clinical update work, required by all Edge Hill lecturers in midwifery and nursing, to update skills and working practices. Jane, who is active in research, intends to use the visit to set up a care programme to improve maternity services for the people of Shyira, the site of the maternity hospital.

Jane said: “I first visited Rwanda in 2001 as one of a group from St Luke?s Church and was shocked by what I saw at the maternity hospital. There weren?t any midwives or doctors and nursing staff were trained to a very poor standard. Rwandan nurse training is only equivalent to secondary school education in the UK. Not only was the hospital very poorly staffed but the building was in such a dilapidated condition it was difficult to comprehend how any type of effective midwifery and medical care could take place.”

Rwanda is still recovering from the genocide that swept through the country in 1994, when an estimated one million people were killed as part of an ethnic cleansing programme. Seven million Rwandans were displaced and three million fled the country, with many professional people murdered or escaping the conflict.

Following the church visit to Shyira in 2001 fund raising began in order to rebuild the hospital. Around £24,000 was raised and a new maternity hospital was completed this summer using local builders and materials.

“I?m looking forwarded to seeing the changes that have occurred since my last visit. We?re keen to make sure that we meet the needs of the people in providing health care training and programmes, rather than imposing our own way of doing things. Rwanda has the worst mother mortality rates in the world and more babies and infants under five die because of lack of health care. I hope that the new hospital goes some way to reverse this trend and I?m keen to implement a midwifery training programme to attract more people into the profession.”

Rotary provided funding to equip the hospital following an unsuccessful bid to Comic Relief.

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