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Health for Women, Children, Community

By Deborah Stein

On August 24, 2009, Catholic Relief Services was honored to open the second wing of a state-of-the-art mothers and children's hospital, built to provide a wide range of critically needed medical services to the people of Banda Aceh.

Reconstruction of hospital in Indonesia.

Photos by CRS staff, Karl Grobl, David Snyder and Sean Sprague for CRS

Banda Aceh, located on the westernmost point of Indonesia's island of Sumatra, was hit hard by the Indian Ocean tsunami. More than 160,000 people died in Aceh province. And a clinic that had stood on the site where the new hospital now stands was heavily damaged. While clearing the land for the new buildings, workers found the bodies of 28 people who had perished in the tsunami.

As one of 100 infrastructure development projects carried out in Aceh, CRS spent $4 million to clean up and rebuild the old clinic site as well as add the new, improved hospital buildings.

December 26 marked the fifth anniversary of one of the world's most horrific natural disasters—the Indian Ocean tsunami. Learn more about CRS' work to leave the tsunami's survivors with a legacy of hope.

On December 15, 2005, an estimated 300 mothers, children, midwives, doctors and community leaders joined to celebrate the grand opening of the first of the four new buildings, housing an emergency room, clinics and administration. The festivities included free health and nutritional checkups for the pregnant women and children in attendance. CRS President Ken Hackett remarked at the time, "Improving the health of women and children will ensure the health of our greater community. One cannot happen without the other."

Nearly five years after the tsunami hit, on August 24, 2009, CRS staff joined local government officials to celebrate the official opening of a second wing, a hospital that includes an ob-gyn clinic, operating room, dental clinic, inpatient wards, laboratory, kitchen and staff areas. The hospital provides specialized—and much-needed—prenatal, postnatal and pediatric care. Before, mothers facing difficult deliveries would have to travel 12 hours by bus—approximately 500 miles—to the city of Medan to receive proper medical care.

Deborah Stein is an associate writer at CRS headquarters in Baltimore.

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