David before surgery
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.
David after surgery
Dr. Seth Lartey from KATH and Hawa after surgery.