Pop star Madonna yesterday said the ill-health of Chifundo Mercy James at the time of adoption, motivated her to build the children’s surgical ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre.
Madonna made the revelation during the official opening of the modern Mercy James Centre of Paediatric Surgery and Intensive Care Unit her charity, Raising Malawi, has built.
She said she was moved to meet Mercy who was suffering from malaria. Madonna said she vowed to ensure that the girl grows into a strong, healthy adult.
The pop star, who faced resistance from some local human rights during her adoption of the Malawian children, said she did not foresee herself doing so much in her life, including having adopted children from Malawi.
She said: “There are so many things I never imagined that I would do with my life. I never imagined I would build a paediatric hospital. I never imagined that I would have six children, four of them Malawians.
“This building is the result of so many dedicated people and I am grateful for each and every one of you for making this dream a reality.”
The celebrated pop star of Material Girl fame, who came with two of her adopted children—Chifundo Mercy James and David Banda at the event—said being a strong woman she has always been, she could not give up on the adoption of Mercy; hence, the building of the paediatric surgical ward.
The ceremony turned emotional when Madonna called Mercy to the stage to deliver her speech.
In her brief speech, Mercy said she felt greatly honoured to have the facility named after her and thanked Madonna for having positive thoughts on the health of Malawian children.
She said: “I remember three years ago when I came to visit this place it was nothing but dirt. Today, thanks to the hard work and generosity of so many people, this intensive care hospital is complete, I am very excited to share this opening with all of you today.”
In his remarks, President Peter Mutharika, while commending Madonna and her charity, said investing in the health of the children should be prioritised.
The President said it was pleasing to note that Raising Malawi has been making efforts in ensuring that children remain healthy and that with the new facility, there will be critical cases that will be easily dealt with.
Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume said the completion of the hospital is a perfect example of a perfect collaboration between the benefactor, her team and the Ministry of Health.
The facility has 56 beds, three theatre rooms, intensive care unit, high dependency unit, 46 main wards and a recovery ward. It is estimated that 700 surgeries will be conducted each year.