U/E: Dr Nana NGO builds new maternity centre at Balungu

Dr Nana, a UK-based NGO, has handed over to the Ghana Health Service a new community maternity centre at Balungu, Talensi District in the Upper East region. It is the first health facility in Ghana built using the Nubian Vault method.

The ceremony took place on Thursday 21 June and was attended by senior representatives of the Regional Minister and Health Directorate, and the District Chief Executive and Health Director. There was a full attendance of local chiefs. A cultural group entertained the assembly of over 200 people with traditional drumming and dancing.

The maternity centre is designed to help women have healthy babies in safety and comfort. It contains rooms for waiting, consulting, labour, delivery, recovery and emergencies, providing comprehensive antenatal, delivery and postnatal care.

Dr Nana was supported by Peal Deng (a local NGO), the Nubian Vault Association and the Balungu Community, in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service. The building was constructed using the Nubian Vault method.

The main structure is built entirely of mud bricks using local materials, which is then plastered and sealed to be fully weather-proof. This minimises the use of timber, metal and cement. It is therefore much cheaper than conventional buildings, but very durable and environmentally friendly. Its cool, quiet interior will make it popular with mothers and staff alike.

The centre took exactly six months to complete, providing employment for local masons, labourers, artisans and traders. The masons participated in a training programme as they worked, under the supervision of the Nubian Vaults Association, an NGO based in Bolgatanga. When fully trained they will be able to lead their own projects using the Nubian Vault method.

Prof Laurence Gruer, CEO of Dr Nana, who is a public health doctor in Scotland established the NGO in memory of his Ghanaian wife Dr Nana Efua Mensiwa Ackom-Mensah who passed away in 2013.

“Nana was very passionate about the health of people in Ghana and always wanted to undertake activities to help improve health delivery here. I hope this will be the first of many similar projects.”

Prof Gruer said the fully finished building, including a perimeter wall and culvert had cost around GHC240,000. This was raised by individual donations mainly in the United Kingdom. If conventional methods had been used it would have cost a lot more.

The project was managed by Daniel Bangrey, who has over 20 years’ experience in community development in Talensi District. He said, ‘This centre will definitely improve the lives of local women and babies in the community. It could also start a radical new approach to building comfortable, affordable and eco-friendly health facilities in northern Ghana’.

All the invited dignitaries were fulsome in their praise for the project. Chief Alhaji Mahamoudu Asonko, the Regional Coordinating Director said ‘The project has the Regional Minister’s blessing. I also strongly endorse the Nubian Vault method as suitable for constructing community health facilities and other public and private buildings in the Upper East Region.’

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