US pop diva Madonna on Thursday launched a 50-bed pediatrics ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in the commercial capital Blantyre.
Raising Malawi director, Sarah Ezzy, said the new facility is the first dedicated pediatric intensive care unit in the country.
Ezzy told reporters at the hospital that Raising Malawi, a non-profit charity organization co-founded by Madonna in 2006, would build and donate the two-story facility and collaborate with the Ministry of Health to help support the unit’s initial operations.
“The new facility will double the number of surgeries for children performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and will provide the first dedicated pediatric intensive care unit in the country,” she added.
She said the project represented an expansion of the charity’s work at Queen Elizabeth since 2008 with Eric Borgstein, one of only three pediatric surgeons working in Malawi.
The partnership with Madonna’s charity organization has helped Borgstein develop a pediatric surgical training program under the College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa.
“Construction of the pediatric surgery and intensive care unit is expected to start in February 2015,” said Ezzy.
Madonna was accompanied by her two adopted Malawian children, David Banda and Mercy Chifundo James. Her biological son, Roco John Ritchie, also was on the visit .
She is expected to meet President Mutharika on Friday in capital Lilongwe, according to presidential press secretary Fredrick Ndala.