HCP international fellow Dr. Matt Bujak has just returned from a six-week visit at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana. While in Ghana, he participated in an outreach clinic held at a rural district hospital in New Edubiase. During this outreach event, Dr. Bujak and Dr. Seth Lartey from KATH performed over 20 cataract surgeries.
HCP’s Project Manager Pamela Clapp was also in Ghana and she had the opportunity to witness the outreach clinic for the first time. Below is what she had to say about her experience:
"I remember being very impressed with how appreciative the patients were for the clinical staff from KATH who came from Kumasi to bring cataract surgery to this remote village. I observed KATH's Dr. Seth Lartey and a third-year female medical student work side-by-side operating on patients who otherwise wouldn't receive this type of care because they don't have the means to get to the larger hospital. Dr. Matt Bujak, our HCP International fellow, was also present at the event. I was able to sit in his consultation room and observe numerous patient screenings which was valuable for me as a non-clinical person. It was a great experience because I was able to see what HCP does best - bring high-quality ophthalmic care to remote locations, while building local capacity through training." Pamela Clapp, HCP Project Manager.
With the support of the Himalayan Cataract Project, KATH plans to step up its outreach efforts in 2011 with at least 12 scheduled outreach clinics and the number of surgeries expected to reach 900.
On behalf of the Himalayan Cataract Project and our partners in Ghana, thank you for continuing to give the gift of sight.
In 2010, a total of 904 sight-restoring surgeries were performed in Outreach Eye Camps in Ghana. Below is a quick update of the latest outreach camp in Goaso:
Goaso is the district capital of Asunafo district located on the western corridor of Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. Goaso is about 124 miles north west of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi. The district has no ophthalmologist and the only eye care workers are an optician and an optometrist who are based in the District Hospital. With a population of 170,000 it is estimated that 1,000 to 1,200 people may be blind from causes such as cataract, glaucoma and corneal opacities.
Dr. Peter Osei-Bonsu of KATH led an outreach camp at the Goaso District Hospital. Prior to the outreach, a team from the hospital screened 934 people. Over a period of two days, Dr. Osei-Bonsu performed 69 cataract surgeries.
One of the patients who received surgery in Goaso was Seidu Billiak a 73-year-old man from Mim in the Brong Ahafo region. He had worked as a watchman in a private home until two years ago when he was let go. He is still strong enough to work but he experienced difficulties due to his vision loss. After undergoing sight-restoring surgery, he was hopeful to return to work soon.
On behalf of our partners from KATH and all those who have benefited from your generous support, I would like thank you for your contribution and I hope you continue to support us in the future.
Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the year 2011.
Gyetiase is a small village with population of about 1000 people, located about one and a half hour drive from Kumasi and about 10 minute drive from Mampong, the second largest town in Ashanti region. In August, Dr. Peter Osei-Bonsu, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), led his fourth surgical outreach in Gyetiase.
Screening was done prior to the outreach and the screening team selected 52 patients. Out of the selected patients, 43 showed up for surgery and 31 were confirmed operable by Dr. Osei-Bonsu. Surgery was carried out on an operating table built by a local carpenter.
All 31 patients had successful cataract surgery. They were examined the next day and received a follow-up exam two weeks later. Based on the follow-up exams, Dr. Osei-Bonsu declared that the outcome of this surgical outreach was "very good".
Seven hours of driving on unpaved roads and then hopping on a fiberglass motor boat on Lake Volta took us to the town of Kete-Krachi. The Himalayan Cataract project, headed by Dr.Lartey along with Dr. Ampong and Ophthalmic Nurse Esther from Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi arrived at Kete Krachi Hospital and within an hour began performing cataract surgeries. Optometrist, Dr. Kennedy Teiko and several volunteers spent the prior week going to villages and screening patents, not just for cataracts, but also for glasses and other correctable eye related problems. Beginning surgery at 6pm after driving all day, the amazing team was able to perform 13 surgeries before calling it a night. Because most of the nursing staff had already left or was working in the clinic performing screenings, Sarah and Denise were pulled into the process. They helped the patients to and from the operating tables, not always an easy task considering many of the patients were older and did not speak English (at least not well enough to understand an American accent).
Jonathan, our local coordinator and Ophthalmic Nurse at Kete-Krachi did an amazing job planning our meals, housing, and running a mammoth project so the surgeons could just concentrate on doing their jobs. After 3 days and one night, 90 surgeries had been successfully performed. Words cannot describe how amazing it is to watch the doctors take off the dressings and be there when someone, like David (a 50 year-old yam farmer) see for the first time in over 2 decades or more. He praised the Lord, declaring it was a miracle and hurried home to see is 16-year-old son for the first time. When he arrived, his entire village was there to celebrate the miracle of his new vision. Himalayan Cataract Project brings modern sight restoring techniques to villagers that would otherwise live a life of darkness.
Sarah and four other In-the-Field Travelers are currently in Ghana before they are making their way to Mali and Burkina Faso. They'll be visiting more than 30 GlobalGiving projects in the next month. Follow their adventures at http://itfwa.wordpress.com/.
On behalf of the Himalayan Cataract Project, I would like to thank you for joining us in our mission to fight curable and preventable blindness in the developing world. It is through your generous contribution that we are able to bring world-class eye care to the most remote regions of the world. Below is a quick update from the field.
Kete Krachi situated in the northern part of the Volta region is one of the poorest and most remote districts in Ghana. The communication network in the district is poor and access to the district capital is through dirt bumpy road which are almost impassable during the rainy season.The district is a peninsula surrounded by the lake Volta and the only connection to the rest of the country is by crossing the Volta Lake using a platoon or a boat. There are two ophthalmic nurses stationed in the district .However there is no ophthalmologist in the whole of the Volta region.
In 2008 the ophthalmic nurses first approached the Himalayan Cataract project to assist with the many blind people they had been seeing in their clinic. Therefore an Outreach Micro-surgical Camp (OMEC) was organized for the people to help restore the sight of the people during which over 140 surgeries were performed and sight restored to many of them.
From June 22nd to June 24th 2010, another OMEC was again organized by the Himalayan Cataract Project and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH). In the previous week, 900 people ages 45 and above had been screened by the team from Kete Krachi. They found over 140 blind people all over the district. A few were unwilling to have surgeries performed on their eyes. But most of them could not afford the transport cost to come to the district hospital to have their sight restored even for free The Team from KATH traveled 6 hours by a dirt bumpy road to the Volta lake side and then crossed the lake by a small motor boat with their equipments and consumables to meet up with the Krachi team.
During 3 ½ days of surgery, over 90 surgeries were performed to restore sight to the blind. Many of the patients seen were people who were completely blind from cataract. Transport was made available on all the days to convey patients from their homes to the hospital and back home.
One such patient was called David Soglo a 56 years old man who is a farmer from Wa in the upper west region. He had been blind in both eyes for 6 years and he had a 6-year-old child whose face he had never seen since he was born. David, who uses a white cane donated by an NGO, was unable to farm on his land since he became blind. He could not provide for his family and he had to rely on his wife, friends, and other charities for food and shelter. He had sometimes been compelled to go begging to survive. David had not even heard about the ongoing screening of adults for eye problems in his village because he was always at home and did not have a radio to hear the announcement. So he did not attend the screening that was going on in his village. Fortunately after one of the screening team members asked another person if there were any blind persons in his village, and he was led to Soglo’s house. When he examined David, he found that David was blind from cataract in both eyes. David was assisted to get to the district hospital where surgery was performed to remove the cataract in his eye.
After the surgery Soglo was amazed that he could now see again. He was so excited he did not want to stay the extra night in the hospital .He just wanted to get home to share his joy with his family and see them again. When he got home the entire village came out to have a celebration with him for his restored sight
There were many similar stories like that of David Soglo.
One 75-year-old woman Hawa was blind in her only eye. She like many others had a white cane and had to be assisted to move around. After surgery Hawa could now see. Her excitement was evident and she is also anxious to get back home to see her grandchildren.
In three and a half days, 903 patients were screened and 91 surgeries were performed. Over the past two years, 230 people had their sight restored in Kete Krachi.
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