Mali Medical Clinic: Doctors dedicated to others

Read on to hear from Dr. Adama Fomba, a pediatrician working at the Humanitarian Medical Clinic in Bamako, Mali, who has dedicated his life to providing medical care to children who can’t afford it. Dr. Fomba and his colleagues rely on Embrace Relief and our donors to continue providing this life-saving service for thousands of people each year. You can support them by donating to Embrace Relief’s Mali Medical Center today!

What inspires people to spend their lives in service of others? For Dr. Adama Fomba, a pediatrician working in the West African country of Mali, it’s the memory of where he came from.

“There are so many things that motivated me to study in the health sector,” Dr. Fomba says. “I am from a village where children suffer a lot, and they don’t have access to health treatment. I saw this firsthand, and it really impacted me. I wanted to help them.”

After earning his medical degree, Dr. Fomba searched for a place to work as a pediatrician, helping children in the greatest need of medicine and care. When he heard about the Clinic Gaoussou Fofana in Mali’s capital city, Bamako – one of three clinics supported by Embrace Relief – it was his clear choice.

“I was informed that Clinic Gaoussou Fofana is working as a humanitarian clinic which motivated me to come here,” Dr. Fomba says. “In many areas around Bamako, people do not have access to [healthcare]. This can be due to financial and distance problems. But I want to work as a humanitarian.”

More than 40 percent of Mali’s population lives below the poverty line, and the country faces a critical shortage of hospitals, doctors, and other medical personnel, with just 1 doctor for every 10,000 people. (The global average is 18 per 10,000; in the United States, there are 26 doctors per 10,000). As a result, less than 10 percent of Mali’s 21 million people are able to access basic healthcare services. The country thus faces severe challenges to the wellbeing and happiness of its people: Mali ranks 186th out of 191 countries in the UN Human Development Index, and its average life expectancy is just 60 years, the 11th-lowest of any country on the planet.

Embrace Relief has identified Mali as a place where investment in healthcare can make a real difference. That’s why we support three clinics in Bamako, staffed by a rotating group of volunteer doctors from around the world. The clinics are equipped to provide a full suite of care, including ophthalmology, dentistry, gynecology, ear/nose/throat services, pediatrics, urology and general internal medicine.

These clinics – as well as a mobile health unit van and a mobile clinic truck funded by Embrace Relief, which bring care directly to people outside the capital city – have provided more than 500,000 preventative health screenings since 2013, and have conducted more than 36,000 cataract surgeries, addressing the country’s high rate of people living with vision loss.

Cataracts, a clouding of the eye lens, are the world’s leading cause of blindness, typically developing in older people. But cataracts, like many other health conditions, can also occur in the eyes of younger people and children because of malnutrition. Mali’s population is at particular risk to health conditions exacerbated by a lack of food: two-thirds of the population is food insecure and one in four children under the age of 5 are chronically undernourished.

“Nutritional problems are the base of child sickness,” Dr. Fomba says. “We should put pressure on this problem. If they have healthy food, they will be safe. The other sicknesses can develop if there continue to be nutrition problems. Kids are very vulnerable so you have to take care of them because their parents’ bodies can defend themselves from sickness, but children cannot.”

And so while the world focuses on the long-term structural issues facing Mali, the doctors at the Humanitarian Medical Clinic (formerly known as Gaoussou Fofana) continue their work, easing the suffering of thousands of individuals each year, enabling people of all ages, who otherwise might not be able to afford healthcare, to live a longer and more dignified life free of chronic ailments.

Donating to Embrace Relief’s Mali Medical Center will give Dr. Fomba and his colleagues the support they need to continue saving lives and improving quality of life for the people of Mali. Every dollar you donate goes directly towards keeping these clinics functioning and providing the high quality of care that all people deserve.

“I thank and congratulate our partners and invite them to do more health projects to help the people in developing countries,” Dr. Fomba says. “Because we are in need. Thank you, all of you.”