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My Time in Ghana

By Dr Lawrence Azavedo

I had a wonderful week in Ghana, this being my second visit to the country. I last visited with the Flying Eye Hospital in 2006 which was my very first assignment as a volunteer with Orbis. Hence I have fond memories of the country.

In 2006 I worked in Accra but this time I was taking part in a hospital based programme at Kumasi, which is the second largest city in Ghana. We had a small team of myself, Mr Larry Benjamin, consultant ophthalmologist at Stoke Mandeville, two Orbis nurses Jackie Newton and Carol Sembrano and Kate Collins, the programme coordinator. The focus of the programme was paediatric cataract training.

I started Monday with lectures at 08:00 with more than 50 anaesthetists/nurses in attendance. I then attended the screening of patients at around 09:30. This programme was slightly different to Flying Eye Hospital projects I discovered since we only screened the patients we were doing for that particular day. In other programmes we have screen all the patients on Monday and schedule them for the whole week.

The reason for this alteration was that patients had travelled from far way and needed to stay in hospital for one night only, reducing the cost for both the hospital and the patient. I met the anaesthetists I was going to work with, which included a nurse anaesthetist, two junior residents and one senior resident.

We had five operations scheduled. I enjoyed teaching them different techniques some of which they were doing for the first time. They were keen enthusiastic learners and by the end of the week we had completed 23 operations.

“We had four emergency corneal lacerations caused by trauma playing with sticks, stones and needles!!! The reason was school holidays”

What was great about this programme was I was able to assess the facilities, teach new techniques, recommend changes and set the wheels in motion for my colleagues who are arriving later in the year. They will be working for two weeks. This will hopefully help to consolidate the training they have received.

In the words of Mother Theresa “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

I enjoyed the hospitality, warmth and enthusiasm of all the staff and look forward to my next visit!

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