LPT GondarStaff from Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) have helped to open the first mental health ward in a rural region of Ethiopia.

The new 8-bedroomed psychiatric ward at Gondar Hospital was built and equipped thanks to professional support and fundraising activities carried out by LPT volunteers. It is expected to admit its first patients by the end of March. 

As well as serving a catchment population of five million people, it will provide a hub for the further development of mental health services in Gondar.

The opening of the ward just before Christmas was the culmination of more than 5 years of work, supported by some 30 members of staff from LPT through its membership of the Leicester charity Health Action Leicester for Ethiopia (HALE) – formerly the Leicester-Gondar Medical Link.

Most of LPT’s work in Gondar has focused on providing training and helping to build mental healthcare capacity at the hospital and training hospital and community-based mental health nursing and medical students.

LPT staff helped HALE to raise more than £40,000 to build and equip the new ward by organising and supporting fundraising activities. This was boosted by a generous donation from a local mental health charity.

Heather Dipple, who chairs LPT’s International Links group supporting mental healthcare development work overseas, and one was of the LPT team in Gondar for the opening, said: “It was really good to work with our partners in Gondar – their determination resulted in the finishing of the psychiatric ward.”