The entire story of Comic Relief's brand new, ambitious and life changing project to renovate a run down, dilapidated clinic in eastern Uganda into a fully functioning healthcare facility is finally coming to TV screens across the UK.
This moving and inspiring one hour BBC documentary ’Comic Relief: Operation Health, will air on Thursday 12th March at 9pm on BBC One.
The documentary follows the journey of the renovation of the clinic, by a local team, from a place people were scared to set foot in, into a place the staff and local community can be proud of – all in time for Red Nose Day. The team had some celebrity support along the way, with Steve Backshall, John Bishop, Richard Hammond, Lenny Henry, Greg James, Alex Jones, Dermot O'Leary and Yasmin Evans dropping by to get involved.
Iyolwa clinic had no power or running water, a ceiling on the verge of collapse, rodent and insect infestations and medical equipment that was outdated and inadequate. Women giving birth at night would do so by the light of mobile phones and patients sometimes feared for their lives because of the caving ceiling. Staff begged not to be posted there and described it as ‘the worst clinic in Africa’.
Lenny Henry said: “It’s one of the worst medical facilities I’ve ever seen. It’s a clinic that serves nearly 20,000 people and yet fridges didn’t work, vaccinations were going off, there was no sanitation. The clinic staff were requesting transfers, patients left before treatment was finished. Now there is hope, the community has come together to create this wonderful new, safe and clean clinic.”
The documentary will not only show how vital this health care facility is for the people of Iyolwa, but will also shine a spotlight on some of the wider healthcare issues facing thousands of communities across Africa – a continent where 500 women per day still die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, where malaria kills one child under the age of five every minutes and diarrhoea is responsible for 12% of deaths in children under five. In the process it will raise money to improve healthcare for communities across Africa, from training medical staff to providing life-saving vaccines and mosquito nets.
Richard Hammond said: “This is just one medical centre serving one community and Africa is an enormous continent. You, like me, probably take it for granted that here in the UK, if we become ill we have a backdrop of support. And with your help we want to do exactly that for communities across Africa.”
Watch Comic Relief: Operation Health, on Thursday 12th March at 9pm on BBC One. For more information visit www.rednoseday.com/operationhealth.