Health  Ghana Project #5195

Outreach Eye Camps in Ghana

by Himalayan Cataract Project, Inc.

HCP Ghanaian Partners complete two successful cataract campaigns, providing 619 sight restoring surgeries

In November, HCP supported two cataract outreach campaigns in Ghana. The first outreach was held in the western region of Ghana, in Sefwi-Wiawso and Tarkwa. Led by Dr. Boateng Wiafe, who is also affiliated with Canadian NGO Operation EyeSight Universal, 175 surgeries were performed, including 5 pediatric surgeries. The following is a short patient story captured at this outreach:

Maame had been bilaterally blind for over 2 years. She resisted having to travel far away from home to get treatment at the outreach. When her children brought her, she only agreed to have her left eye operated on. After her surgery she was able to see her 2 year old granddaughter for the first time. Filled with joy, she asked to be added to the list of patients the following day to have the cataract in her right eye removed. Pledged to return with four friends from her village who needed surgery, and she thanked everyone who made it possible for people like her to regain their sight.

The second outreach effort was in Keta, located in the Volta Region of Ghana, and we had our largest outreach in Ghana to date providing 444 sight restoring surgeries, November 13 - 17! 

This outreach was led collaboratively by teams from Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital including Dr. Frimpong, Dr. Raymond, Dr. Aikins, Dr. Fordjour, HCP super volunteer James Garrett and HCP Affiliated Ophthalmologist Dr. John Welling. We were also lucky to have a wonderful group of guests and volunteers from Alder Security, based in Orem, Utah, who provided support to the surgical teams and captured the beautiful photos provided here. The group included CEO Adam Schanz, Mitch Hamilton, James Edwards, Nathan Schanz, Jake Dahl and Photographer Kevin Cox. James Edwards had this to say about his experience:

“My experience in Ghana with HCP was nothing short of life changing. I knew before hand we would be working hard and with a lot of people who live in poverty. I had no idea that meant starting our day before the sun rises and ending it well past when the sun sets, working with hundreds and hundreds of men, women and children. Hoards of people came from all over to see these doctors in hopes of fixing their eyesight. Witnessing their hope and eagerness to see again was inspiring. Just as amazing as these people coming from all over the country was that the doctors performing these cataract surgeries would sit in the operating room for hours on end. Never leaving their station. Working relentlessly and consistently in getting as many eye surgeries done as possible. I was blown away with these doctors commitment to these people that they didn’t know. It was one of the most beautiful and self sacrificing things I’ve ever seen. It gave me a huge desire to come out and do this again. I can’t explain the amount of gratitude I had for being apart of this and working with these people. It’s beyond words. I can’t wait to do it again.”


 

Patients on their way to cataract outreach in Yegi
Patients on their way to cataract outreach in Yegi

HCP partner Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) and the Holy Family Hospital organized a five day cataract surgical outreach campaign in Techiman, Ghana where 232 cataract surgeries were performed. Individuals served ranged from 7 to 97 years of age.

The next HCP-supported campaign was organized by Tamale Teaching Hospital with the Mathias Catholic Hospital in Yeji, Ghana from July 9 - 14 providing 37 cataract surgeries. Yeji is a town located along the Volta River in the Atebubu District in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana.

With the combined efforts in Techiman and Yeji a total of 269 successful sight restoring procedures were recently performed. In the past couple years, HCP has expanded its reach in Ghana to include partnerships with the Tamale Teaching Hospital in the Northern region, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra and Operation Eyesight Universal, a Canadian INGO also working to reduce needless blindness in Ghana.

To learn more about HCP's work in Ghana visit cureblindness.org.

Techiman patients wait for eye patch removal
Techiman patients wait for eye patch removal
KATH Oculoplastics Team
KATH Oculoplastics Team

Drs. Anya Gushchin and Brent Hayek led an oculoplastics workshop at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana from April 23rd-30th. The training consisted of both lectures and hands-on clinical training with KATH Drs. Armah, Agyeman and Gifty; oculoplastic nurses Vida and Hannah; and ophthalmology residents.

Prior to the workshop, the KATH team gathered together oculoplastics patients requiring specialized treatment, many of whom would not have received care otherwise. A total of 35 patients were seen over the course of the program. The whole oculoplastic team was trained in fitting of ocular prosthesis and made real headway in making an institutional change to place a conformer at the time of enucleation/evisceration surgery to prevent socket contractures. This is a perfect example of how HCP is able to bring together American and Ghanaian ophthalmic professionals to provide high quality treatment and improve overall eye care.

A special thank you goes out to the nurses and anesthesiology team and the OMFS division who lent their bone saw thus making an orbital case possible for the first time. We would like to also recognize Mr. Roland Scott, an ocularist from Chicago, who donated 29 prostheses and many conformers for the patients of KATH.

Dr. Judith Simon at Work
Dr. Judith Simon at Work

In December, HCP partner Dr. Judith Simon brought a team from the Tamale Teaching Hospital to Yeji, a village along the Volta River some 300 kilometers south of Tamale. It was Dr. Simon’s second trip of the year to Yeji — both on Saturdays, the day she leads outreach trips into the countryside to provide eye care for residents living in remote and hard-to-reach places. Her team performed 30 cataract surgeries that Saturday, contributing to the record number of 3,494 total surgeries HCP and its three implementing partners performed in Ghana during 2016 - more than half took place in outreach settings. 

The numbers, though, don’t tell the heart of the story about our work in Ghana. Every single cataract surgery we perform changes a human life for the better, in many cases, profoundly. In Yeji, Dr. Simon’s team gave sight to a 23-year-old woman who had been blind since birth. Another woman, from a nearby village, returned to Yeji after having had surgery there during the previous outreach. She brought five members of her village with her, all of them blind, all of them living with the belief that blindness is simply an inevitable part of aging. While one of those people had untreatable glaucoma, the team from Tamale was able to restore the sight of the other four with a simple, inexpensive procedure. Dr. Simon, who has worked full-time in Ghana for the past three years, joked about the unofficial recruiting that helps spread the word of HCP’s work. She said, “We told that woman she’ll be getting a percentage soon!”

Working in partnership with Operation Eyesight Universal (OEU) in Ghana, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) managed a cataract surgical outreach in Akim Akroso in eastern Ghana from November 7 – November 11, 2016 at St. Theresa’s Hospital. Over the course of the week, the team provided 98 cataract surgeries and 17 pterygium surgeries. The surgical team included Dr. Boateng Wiafe (OEU), Dr. Akwasi Ahmed (KATH), Dr. John Welling (HCP), Dr. Eric Hansen (HCP Fellow), Dr. Joseph Kwarteng (KATH 2nd year resident), Dr. Mercy Dawson (local cataract surgeon), Dr. John Pajka (Ohio), Dr. Michael Yim (3rd year Bascom Palmer resident), Dr. Kristen Mendoza (1st year Ohio State resident) and Mr. Nabin Rai (Medical Coordinator from Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, Nepal). In addition to performing surgeries, senior staff capitalized on the opportunity to train ophthalmology residents in small incision cataract surgery.

St. Theresa’s Hospital is a new facility, positioned between Accra and Kumasi, built as a partnership between Ohio State University and a Dutch non-profit organization. Much of the advanced screening was carried out by Dinah, an ophthalmic nurse from St. Theresa’s, and the follow-up will be managed by Dr. Mercy Dawson and Dinah.

 

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Organization Information

Himalayan Cataract Project, Inc.

Location: Waterbury, VT - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.cureblindness.org
Project Leader:
Geoff Tabin
Director
Waterbury, VT United States

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