Designing a Hospital Like a Village Could Solve One of Africa’s Biggest Health Problems
There’s a courtyard with a space for gardening, cooking in a shared kitchen, and laundry done under the shade of a roof that collects rainwater. The Maternity Waiting Village at the Kasungu district hospital in central Malawi emulates the communal spaces of traditional villages. The goal of the design is to attract expectant mothers from remote areas to the facility before giving birth.
Too often, pregnant women in Malawi, and other African countries, give birth at home because hospitals are far and commuting there is too expensive. While maternal mortality rates around the world have dropped drastically over the past two decades, they’re still far too high in Africa. Malawi is home to one of the Africa’s highest maternal mortality rates—510 deaths (pdf, p. 33) per 100,000 live births as of 2013, compared to the average of 239 deaths per 100,000 births in developing countries. The African continent accounts for the vast majority of global maternal deaths—550 of 830 deaths a day last year, according to the World Health Organization.
The design and development of the village, which was completed last October, was done by MASS Design Group, with Gates Foundation, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Malawi’s health ministry.
- Health Care