DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO— 1 May 2009— A new partnership between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation promises an additional water source for the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital and Research Center, which is located in the capital city of Kinshasa.
“We became involved with this project because the hospital seems to be doing all they can to provide quality medical care but still find themselves needing additional resources,” said Matthew Heaps, who oversees clean water projects for the Church. “We help them to help themselves by supplementing the hospital’s existing water source with an additional well for consistent and reliable water.”
The not-for-profit hospital, which opened in 2007, is the vision of Dikembe Mutombo, who retired this week after 18 seasons in the National Basketball Association. The facility currently has 150 beds with a planned capacity of 300.
“The hospital was built to help the people of my hometown live healthy and productive lives,” said Mutombo, who discussed the project at a 23 March dinner meeting with Church leaders in Salt Lake City. “This well project will supplement the water we currently have on site and will provide a critically needed supply of precious pure water in case of malfunction or shortages in the public water system.”
According to the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy in DR Congo is 46 to 49 years of age. Nearly 1 in 5 newborn children do not live beyond their fifth birthday.
The hospital is mindful of its water utilization both in quality and quantity and already has a system that treats water before and after it is used. The existing public system has a slow flow rate, which prevents on-site water tanks from filling to capacity. This project will help provide a consistent flow of clean water for the hospital.
Once completed, the well will be nearly 300 feet deep and the water will be pumped to a 13,200-gallon elevated tank and gravity-fed to the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Mutombo says relieving the water burden increases the hospital’s ability to add specialized services.
“The city of Kinshasa has but one dialysis center, and it is overburdened and unable to meet demand,” said Mutombo. “The supplemental water source helps us accomplish the first step in adding a 10-bed dialysis unit that would serve several hundred patients per year.”
“We have seen the genuine concern by the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation for those in need around the world,” said Heaps, “and are pleased to assist in fulfilling the mission of the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital.”
The facility has a staff of 450 and last year provided medical care to 22,000 patients.
The project is expected to take three months to complete.
For more information please visit www.dmf.org.
This article was prepared by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Newsroom at lds.org.