Ayrshire and Arran Health’s Gordon McKay chaired UNISON’s National Conference as this year’s national president – and he made a great job of it.
He chaired with humour and respect and the view of delegates was clearly demonstrated by a standing ovation after his speech at the start of the week and after tributes (or slagging?) from mates Willy Duffy and Tam Waterson on the last day.
Gordon chose a mother and baby clinic in Manchinjiri, Malawi, as his Presidential Charity this year.
The generosity of Scottish branches has shone through as a race night in November in Glasgow raised £4,000 – almost half of the cost of a new wing to the centre. It was followed by another fund-raiser in April and later that month Gordon and Fife Health’s Wilma Brown visited the clinic.
£3,000 came from UiA this week and Gordon also received a cheque for £5,000 on the last day of Conference. In total over £35,000 has been raised. Gordon thanked Wilma Brown and Danny Phillips for their help in running the campaign.
The government funded clinic in Manchinjiri has a two bed labour ward where staff deliver babies, carry out pre and post-natal checks and take measures to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV.
Bertha Masangale, a midwife at the hospital said: “I love my job. Helping women give birth is wonderful. But we struggle to help all the women who need us.
“We know we could do so much more for our families, which is why we are so pleased you are helping us. It’s amazing that thousands of miles away UNISON members have heard of our clinic and care about my work.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And what makes it even more special for me is knowing UK health workers support us. Because you know what it is like”
Gordon said: “As a healthcare worker I wanted to choose a presidential project that supported my health colleagues in Africa who provide health care in difficult circumstances.”
Depending on how much money is raised this is what it can help with:
• New, bigger maternity wing where they can carry out more ante and post-natal checks and do more to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV
• Testing room to do more HIV testing, with privacy.
• Shelter for patients’ family who cook for the patients.
• Ambulance so women with complications can be transported to the main hospital, 24km away
• Patients’ shelter while they are waiting for medicines from the pharmacy.
• A nursing station/rest room so staff can get some rest
• Solar panels or generator. The clinic does not have electricity. It is on a list for electrification, but noone knows when that will happen.
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