By Ikenna Nwokedi
Over 50 patients drawn from different parts of the country in the past one week have benefitted from a free medical outreach and surgical mission.
The programme organized by a US-based Non-Governmental Organization, GEANCO Foundation, in collaboration with Life International Hospital Awka, was part of the organization’s effort to give back to the society by providing solutions for their medical conditions.
Some of the services rendered during the week long surgical mission include conducting laparoscopic, gall bladder, hernia, ovarian and paediatric surgeries on patients with related issues, training for doctors and exposing them to the aspect of minimal invasive surgery, counselling and medical advise as well as free medical screening.
Speaking to the media, Programme Manager Nigeria of GEANCO Foundation, Ms Nchedo Pascaline Chukwuka said the initiative was part of the organization’s Corporate Social Responsibility to the society. Ms Chukwuka opined that the mission was a way of giving back to the society and showing love and care to people with rare medical conditions.
“GEANCO Foundation commenced this medical outreach and surgical mission since 2019 in collaboration with Life International Hospital Awka who have the needed state-of-the-art medical facilities and equipment. The surgical mission has two components comprising of surgery and training programmes. The surgery is for patients who came from different parts of the country while the training is for about 30 Doctors drawn from different locations in the country,” Chukwuka said.
“We came with a team of three surgeons who are based in America, Dr. Kevin El-Hayek (Lead Surgeon), Dr. Ronnie Sullins, Dr. Bipan Chand, Nurse Cherese as well as administrative officers while the Chief Executive of the Life International Hospital, Prof. Joseph Ikechebelu equally handled some Gynaecology and Laparoscopic cases. We expect that at the end of the programme many of our consultants must have been exposed to the aspect of minimal invasive surgery”, Chukwuka stated.
The Programme Manager disclosed that there has been testimonies of positive notes from the trainees and it has been a fulfilling experience seeing patients from underserved communities respond positively after undergoing surgical operations to their medical condition which hitherto they had lost hope getting a medical solution.
In his reaction, the Operation Manager for GEANCO Foundation Nigeria representing Life International Hospital Awka, Mr. Munachukwuso Agu said the surgical mission which started on sunday has no age limit and it commenced with physical examination for the patients before the surgical operation. He disclosed that the surgeries carried out has been largely successful save for a few challenges but they have been pulling through.
He said: “The partnership between GEANCO Foundation and Life International Hospital has been on for years and we are grateful that we can give back to the society. The patients are those who applied through the channel provided by the foundation before now and they came from far places such as Kaduna, Kano, Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan and other locations. Life International Hospital Awka provided the space and facilities for this process to take place while GEANCO Foundation came with their experts for the surgery.
“The aim was to handle laparoscopic surgery and five other cases such as gall bladder, appendix, ovary, hernia repair and paediatric surgeries. We have cases down to 3 to 4 months old baby and a patient who is 82 years old who had a hernia repair. The patients who have undergone the surgical procedure have been grateful and appreciative of the process and we are really delighted that we have put a smile on their faces by solving their medical challenge which they couldn’t handle owing to paucity of funds,” Agu stated.
Also speaking, one of the trainees, a Resident Doctor and Senior Registrar at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital Zaria, Dr. Hadiza Muhammad Tanko said the experience is fulfilling as it is an aspect of surgery that she is not exposed to as the minimal assess surgery in her institution is limited to diagnostics and biopsis. Dr. Tanko said she has been endowed with vital information on the medical process owing to the existence of the simulation laboratory that aids training to get high end coordination.
A beneficiary, 18-year old Victor Chikere, said he is delighted to have undergone a medical procedure on his right inguinal hernia which constantly gave him some discomfort for many months but couldn’t get a remedy owing to lack of funding.
“I have benefited from the programme, they operated on me as I was not feeling well. They carried out some tests, operated on me and gave me some drugs. I think I am a lot better although am still feeling a bit of pains from the surgical operation,” He said.
Another beneficiary, Jacinta Chinyere, 49, thanked the organisers for remembering the less privileged and disadvantaged communities as not everyone can afford to go to the hospital. Jacinta who underwent a surgical procedure for Supra Umbilical hernia said she is optimistic about a clean bill of health henceforth.
Highpoints of the occasion was the visit of the state Commission for Health, Dr. Afam Obidike who interacted with the team of Geanco Foundation as well as a tour of the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment at the Life International Hospital Awka.