Psychiatric hospital

One of the major projects of our foundation is the realisation of a brand new building to replace the old Campama psychiatric hospital.

Before the new building (Campama)

There is only one psychiatric hospital in Gambia, Campama, previously located in an old prison building in Banjul. IT was the only psychiatric hospital in The Gambia and also served the bigger part in the West African region.

In abominable circumstances an average of hundred patients were supposed to be treated with psychiatric health care, rehabilitation or to receive out-patient treatments. The facilities were run down, hygiene was minimal, psychiatric professionalism was virtually non-existent. The building was badly overcrowded.  eEspite all the good efforts of the staff, people were rather locked-up in order to avoid problems in society and in families than being treated.

The Tanka Tanka Foundation wanted to do someting about this situation and succeded in raising enough funds to start and build new facilities.

New building: Tanka Tanka Psychiatric Hospital

The Gambian Government has been very supportive and his Excellency the President allocated a sizeable area of land for this project in Sallaghi, not far from the highway to the airport, and in the middle of the community. The central location will have a positive effect to diminish the stigma of psychiatry.

The building design has been developed together with the staff. A NGO company, the Swedish ‘Future In Our Hands’, has been commissioned to build the new psychiatric hospital. Future in our Hands has already building experience in the Gambia and has a good local network needed for recruiting skilled local building workers and to obtaining the building materials for the right Gambian market price. The project was managed locally.

With help of  many donors, we were able to make an excellent start of the building process.

The building project itself developed in several stages and milestones:

1) Preparing the building site

After clearing the building site with help of Gambian soldiers and placing the symbolical first stone by representatives of the Gambian government on the 18th February 2008, the building process started. After the final preparations and the realisation of a borehole, the real building process started on the 7th May 2008.

2) First stage of building work

The first focus of the building process was on the main buildings crucial for patient care like the wards, isolation ward and the sanitary facilities. Also the janitor’s house, concrete fence, kitchen, laundry and dining area were on this list of first priorities.

3) Official Opening

On 19th February 2009 the building work had made such a massive progress that it felt appropriate to organise an openings ceremony to celebrate this success.

The opening ceremony was a very special moment for patients and staff.

This was the moment they were all waiting for for a long time. They already felt how the new building has contributed to positive attention for mental health care in the Gambia and how it has affected the image of the psychiatric hospital in a positive way.

At the opening ceremony the Gambia’s president insisted in renaming the psychiatric hospital into ‘Tanka Tanka Psychiatric Hospital’. An important symbolic gesture for a new direction of the history of the psychiatric hospital and also a gesture to show Gambia’s gratefulness to the Tanka Tanka Foundation, all it’s donors and Anna Bouman!

4) Transfer from Campama to Tanka Tanka Psychiatric Hospital

From the opening ceremony onwards all the effort was focussed on ensuring that the building was ready for patients and staff to move in. This finally happened on the 7th May 2009.

5) Finishing touch

At the moment the focus is on the finishing touches and final fundraising to make this happen. Some of the actions still scheduled are: placing shelves in the laundry room, installing some lighting, finishing parts of the landscaping and some other smaller details.

Together with the staff we are currently also preparing a maintenance rota to ensure the building will be kept in good condition.