The Hospital in Lambarene
After Dr.Schweitzer's death in 1965, the work of the hospital continued unabated to serve the local community as well as a vast region of the Gabon, and to adapt to the changing circumstances and needs of these communities.
As time went on more and more qualified Gabonese doctors and nurses became available to join the staff, and in 1981 a newly constructed general surgery as well as other associated new buildings were inaugurated.
A new governing body, known as the "Fondation Internationale de l'Hopital a Lambarene (FISL) was established and participation by the Gabonese Government gradually increased to its present level of meeting 50% of its running costs. The remainder is still raised mainly in Europe and the USA from private donations, gifts and legacies.
At present, the hospital is used annually by some 50000 people and has 160 members of staff, most of whom live in the hospital compound. 140 out-patients are seen daily by 2 surgeons, 2 interns and 2 paediatricians. A casualty department, pharmacy, laboratory and x-ray unit are clustered around the out-patients department. The 2 surgeons and their teams carry out about 2200 operations annually in the 2 operating theatres, and 2 surgical wards, a medical ward, a paediatrics and a maternity ward together accommodate some 150 beds.
There is also a research laboratory, a dental clinic, the only geriatric and psychiatric unit in the whole of the Gabon, and a unit for preventive medicine, which together with the mobile dental clinic pays visits to surrounding villages and schools. As in Schweitzer's days, patients are still looked after by members of their families, but Leprosy is no longer the problem it used to be. The few new cases can be treated as out-patients.
The last generation of hospital buildings which Dr.Schweitzer himself built towards the end of his life are now being restored as a visitor's centre, guest accommodation, a small museum and an educational centre. The UK Fund is taking an active part in this work as well as supporting the annual running costs of the hospital, albeit in a modest way.
For more details of today's hospital go to: www.schweitzer.org.