Global pop icon, Madonna, on Tuesday opened a world-class children’s hospital in Malawi to much praise from the government and Malawians in general.
The singer/philanthropist has a close relationship with the southern African country having adopted four children from the country. The Mercy James Center in the city of Blantyre is named after one of her adopted children.
The center was built through the efforts of her charity, Raising Malawi. It is touted as Malawi’s first paedratic surgery and intensive care unit (ICU). The facility’s full name is Mercy James Institute for Paediatric Surgery and Intensive Care.
We hired lawyers, went to the Supreme Court. But I never gave up, I never backed down, I fought for Mercy and won. We fought for this hospital and won. Love conquers all.
The 58-year-old was hailed as a “symbol of a motherly spirit” by Malawi President Peter Mutharika after the American singer opened a children’s hospital named after her adopted daughter Mercy James.
“We will ensure that not only will it be a world-class children’s hospital, but also a superior centre of learning. This is as much about healing as it is about empowerment,” Madonna said at the hospital’s official opening.
Madonna established the non-profit Raising Malawi charity in 2006 to provide health and education, particularly for girls. The charity has built 10 schools in Malawi, according to its website.
She was, however, critical about the Malawian justice system which gave her a hard time when she moved earlier this year to adopt twin girls. She described the episode as a battle she fought and won, adding that love conquered all.
The singer adopted Malawian children David Banda and Mercy James in 2006 and 2009 respectively and twins Esther and Stella Mwale earlier this year. She has two other children, Lourdes and Rocco, from previous relationships.
Speaking at the event, Mercy James drew applause and ululation from the crowd after saying: “Many kids and many lives will be saved. Thank you mum, you’re the bomb.”
“It was not an easy battle,” an emotional Madonna said, she explained further, “The judge refused me because I was recently divorced.
‘‘We hired lawyers, went to the Supreme Court. But I never gave up, I never backed down, I fought for Mercy and won. We fought for this hospital and won. Love conquers all,” she added.
The health minister Peter Kumpalume said the hospital will help save lives of newborns in a country where infant mortality is still one of the highest in the world, but steadily declining.
“For our part, we will fully support the facility, we are bringing in doctors and drugs,” Kumpalume told Reuters.
Malawi’s infant mortality rate declined to 42 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016 from 135 deaths in 1992, government data shows.