Mission Report November 2016 Visit to Tema and Cape Coast, Ghana
Four of us arrived in Tema on November 5 for this Medical Mission laden with donated equipment, intraocular lenses and essential medications from Alcon and Allergan.
During the first week Charles Narh and Kris Karlen worked in Cape Coast at the Bishop Akon Eye Clinic while Kate Heidrick and I set up our clinic at Narh-Bita hospital ably assisted by their resident Ophthalmic nurse. We saw between 30 and 40 patients each day while the Cape Coast duo immediately plunged into surgery performing from 12 to 15 procedures a day, mostly cataract extractions with intraocular lens placement.
At the end of the first week we all met in Cape Coast, drove to Kumasi and went hiking in the Bobiri forest before spending the second week together in Cape Coast. There we developed quite a system of screening and preparing patients for surgery with Dr. Karlen continuing to do over 15 cases a day. The Ghanaian ophthalmologist, Dr. Benedictine Thomas, and I administered surgical anesthetic blocks, performed minor procedures and laser treatments between seeing clinic patients while Charles and Kate instructed the Ghanaian Optometrist and nurses in the use of the newer biometry equipment and in performing other tests. Kate also helped instruct the intake workers on the important aspects of history taking. We put in about 14-hour days, but felt that we had accomplished quite a lot. The smiles and thanks of the patients validated our feelings.
At the end of the second week Charles and I met with the Narh family members and architects about building an eye clinic in partnership with Narh-Bita hospital and fleshed out the duties, financing, time lines and space requirements. I was most impressed with the selfless dedication of the Narh-Bita staff to improving the welfare of the Ghanaian people and their forward thinking and well thought out planning for improved medical care in the face of a fluid economy and political situation. Our partnership will benefit both our organizations to successfully bring the eye clinic to fruition and with it much improved eye care for Ghanaians.
Carol A. Munch, MD