When a person is hospitalised in Belgium, he or she can rely not only on medical care but also on the “hotel services” of the hospital as a patient. The patient receives a meal in his room three times a day, he is washed if necessary by the nursing staff, his wounds or dressings are taken care of by the nursing staff, the cleaning of the room is done by a specialised team. In short, our hospitals offer a complete service to their patients. Family members and friends can visit during strictly regulated visiting hours. As Europeans, we take this for granted. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In Benin – as in many African countries – there are “garde-malades” taking care of the patient. The Foundation has already invested a lot in improving the living and working conditions of the garde-malades. Partly thanks to a donation from the province of West Flanders in 2017, it has been able to build kitchen, washing and sleeping facilities for the garde-malades.
Not only do garde-malades look after female family members who have recently given birth. They also take care of newborns and wash them so that mothers can rest.
The garde-malades remain on site as long as their family member is hospitalised. They cook and wash for the patient, but also make sure that the patient takes his or her medication on time. If there is a problem, they inform the doctor or other medical staff.
The garde-malades prepare food in pots they place on a pile of stones. Partly thanks to a donation from the province of West Flanders, the Foundation has been able to seriously invest in improving the living and working conditions of the garde-malades. For example, cooking places have been built (see photo on the right) where the garde-malades can place their pots and pans in a stable and safe manner on a cooking basin. Next to that, washing and resting places have been built for the garde-malades.