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The Most Boring Place On Earth

If Disneyland is ”The Happiest Place on Earth”, I have found “The Most Boring Place on Earth” — the pediatric oncology ward at Princess Marina Hospital. Being in any hospital at any age for any reason is not fun! However, hospitals in the U.S. do a great job of trying to distract kids with child life specialists, music therapists, TV, video games, movies, board games, puzzles, playrooms and visiting volunteers, just to name a few. None of that happens here in Botswana.

Oncology Ward at Princess Marina Hospital
Oncology Ward at Princess Marina Hospital

The oncology ward, which is the smallest unit in the pediatric ward, has only 4 beds, no curtains around the bed, and often there are patients lying on mattresses on the floor when the beds are full. The rest of the ward is comprised of wide open rooms with rows of beds. Patients undergoing chemotherapy are more susceptible to infections thus they are isolated from the other children in the hospital. The patient’s mother or other caregiver must share the bed with them. There are no couches, lounge chairs or extra beds. Oh, and there is no air conditioning or screens on the windows to keep flies and mosquitoes out. (Botswana is mostly desert, so it gets pretty hot).

Non-functional TV in Oncology Ward at Princess Marina Hospital, which we hope to fix soon
Non-functional TV in Oncology Ward at Princess Marina Hospital, which we hope to fix soon

A wonderful playground taunts the children as they lie in bed getting their long chemotherapy infusion while watching the other children play.

Playground at Princess Marina Hospital 

So close, yet so far away.

Thankfully, fairy tale endings are not limited to Disneyland. Some local benefactors heard about the lack of entertainment on the ward. They started raising money and enlisting the help of a local business. We have hope that the Paediatric Medical Ward will get a well-deserved electronic facelift in the not so distant future.

Dr. Jeremy Slone, Pediatric Oncologist