By Aisha Tamba
A team of surgical volunteers recently organised a surgical camp in Basse performing a wide range of surgical procedures for communities there.
Held at the Basse Regional Health Directorate, the aim was to help the vulnerable in hard-to-reach areas and improve their access to surgical services.
People from other areas including neighbouring Senegal benefitted from the services provided by the team of volunteers.
Specialist surgeons, anesthetists, gynecologists and theatre nurses were among the 20-man team of volunteers.
They conducted and completed at least 33 surgeries in what was a day-long activity. Among the many illnesses treated, doctors say hernia was the most common operation among the patience.
The Chief Surgeon of EFSTH, Dr Alagie Manneh, said: “At the main teaching hospital, we have observed that our [patient] list was getting bigger by the day. We also observed it gets very difficult for patients who live far from Banjul to have access to surgery. As a result, they have to come back multiple times before they get an opportunity to be operated on.
We thought it wise to organise a surgical camp where we prepare ourselves as a team to come to a district hospital like Basse and make this known to people who live in the surroundings so that they come in numbers for us to assist and do surgeries for them.”
Mr Manneh said their activity has been publicised in radios across regions in a bid to get more people to come forward and receive medical services.
He added: “We have taken time out of our busy schedule in the Kombos. We intend to do as much [operations] as possible. It is something that we have been doing over and over at the Kanifing General Hospital, Bansang and not so long ago in Essau. We intend to cover every hospital in the country that has a functional operating theater. If it’s not functional we will coordinate with those responsible to make the place operational for us to contribute our quota in restoring people’s health through surgery.”
Mr Manneh went on to profess the doctors’ passion and happiness for such initiatives.
“This is our profession,” he said, “and we cherish it.
“If you don’t treat cases when they are less complicated, they will pile up and get worsen and that cost lives and makes surgery very difficult,” Dr Manneh said.
Abou Mass, a nursing officer at EFSTH, gave instances that some people in the rural areas experience health issues but would lack money or means to travel to the urban centres for treatment. “That is why we deem it necessary to organise a team and come to meet the people in their own community and give them the best treatment they deserve,” the nursing officer said.
He appealed to the Gambian diaspora and philanthropists to lend support to the volunteer surgical camp initiative.
Father-of-two Ebrima Jabbi, thanked the doctors for relieving his two sons from pain.
“My two sons are five and eight years old. They had severe stomach pains. I am happy that they have attended to my children at zero cost,” an elated father said.