THE SALAM CENTRE FOR CARDIAC SURGERY IN SUDAN
Designed by Italy-based EMERGENCY and TAMassociati architects, and awarded with the highest accolade in architecture, the Aga Khan, the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan is not only unique in that it is the only one to provide free of charge services in a Sub-Sahara African region that is three times the size of Europe, and a population that is extremely prone to cardiac diseases, but also itbecause of its architecture that is as simple as its ingenious, combining innovative techniques with recycled materials.
Cardiac diseases are extremely common in Sudan and Sub-Saharan Africa. The absence of facilities that provide adequate treatment makes rheumatic fever the leading cause of cardiovascular diseases, particularly in the age group 5 to 15 years. In industrialized countries, where medical treatment is readily available, only one in a 100.000 people fall victim to rheumatic fever. In Sudan however, one in a 1000 people is affected by the disease Cardiovascular diseases are estimated to cause in 300,000 deaths in Africa every year, and projections by the World Health Organization show that roughly one million people on the continent will be in need of surgery in the next 5 to 20 years.
Located in Soba, 20 kilometres south of Sudan's capital city, Khartoum, , the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery is presently the only specialized and free-of-charge facility in an area of 11.5 million square kilometers (three times the size of Europe) and with a population of over 300 millions.. Operative since April 2007, the Centre covers an area of 12,000 sqm indoor, on a lot of land of roughly 40,000 sqm on the banks of the Blue Nile. It was designed and built, and is managed and run by EMERGENCY, an Italian Non Governmental Organization (NGO) dedicated to provide medical and surgical assistance to the victims of war and poverty. Since its foundation in 1994, EMERGENCY has built capacities in the health sector and treated over 8 million patients in countries that reach from Afghanistan and Algeria, Angola, to Sierra Leone, Serbia, and Sri-Lanka. In accordance with The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, EMERGENCY recognizes the “right to be cured” as a basic and inalienable human right. All its facilities are therefore completely free of charge.
The hospital has 63 beds, and serves over 50,000 patients each year. Next to a surgical block with three Operating Theatres, the centre also includes consultation rooms, a laboratory, blood bank, and pharmacy, a laundry, library, a conference room, a children’s playroom, a cafetaria, guest quarters for out-of-town patients, and a pavilion for prayer and meditation suitable to all religions, Construction began in October 2004, and ended in March 2007. Recycled materials were used throughout. The compound that houses the centre's staff for instance was built with discarded shipment containers that were found on the site. The heat being the main challenge, the containers were rebuilt in such a way, that the blazing sun never directly hits the containers.
Whereas a solar farm powers the water-heating system, insulation is provided through an 'onion system' of 5-centimetre internal insulating panels and an outer skin comprising of a ventilated metal roof and bamboo blinds, with the sunrays never directly hitting the containers. Other features include a 60 metres long "sand trap" was built in the basement to filter the huge quantity of sand and dust that fill the air in the region, taking advantage of simple mechanical principles. The air, sucked in from outside, is forced through this underground labyrinth-shaped tunnel. As the air hits the walls and looses speed, most of the sand and dust are removed and the air starts to cool down. The air is then “washed” and cleaned by vaporized water, flushing away the smallest particles. Due this process the air, 9°C cooler than the outside temperature, is ready to enter the Air Treatment Units and eventually the ventilation and conditioning systems.
In the first 10 years of its existence the centre executed 57.276 cardiological examinations and 6,821 surgical operations. 'Already these figures are proof that it is possible even in Africa to realize projects of excellence in serving the poor.,„ says Raul Pantaleone, co-founder of TAMassociati architects,“We see it as a Utopia come true, and not just as a hospital.“ (mb)