Outreach Eye Camps in Ghana

 
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In August, Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) partners at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), led by Dr. Seth Lartey, organized a cataract outreach event in the town of Aburi, which is located in the Eastern Region of Ghana.  This involved weeks of screening of potential patients throughout the region, transportation of equipment and staff, and consecutive days of performing cataract surgeries from morning to night.  All of that hard work was worth it, however, as the KATH team was able to provide 324 cataract surgeries to Ghanaians of all ages. 

Among the many patients was a young boy who had developed a cataract in one of his eyes and was badly in need of surgery (pictured above).  Upon having the bandage removed post-surgery, he said, “I feel normal, nobody will ask me about my eyes again. I am happy to go back to school. My friends won’t make fun of me anymore.”

The KATH team has been dedicated to steadily increasing their cataract outreach efforts in 2016. Including the event in Aburi, KATH has provided a total of 1,292 surgeries so far this year. This is more than double the 645 surgeries they provided via outreach events in all of 2015. It is an amazing accomplishment, and HCP looks forward to seeing them continue to grow in the upcoming years.

HCP and its partners are dedicated to eliminating unnecessary blindness due to cataracts. Cataract surgery is a relatively simple procedure that takes 10 minutes and approximately $25 in consumable costs.  However, it is estimated that 50,000 cataract surgeries are required each year in Ghana to eliminate the backlog of those suffering from cataract blindness.  There is still work to do, and HCP and KATH thank you for your continued support in this endeavor!

 
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Waiting for Surgery
Waiting for Surgery

Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital continues to expand its cataract outreach program to rural Ghana. This past month saw the outreach team head to Gyetease in Sekyere Central District. Though only about an hour and a half from Kumasi, Gyetease is a world away in terms of readily available access to ophthalmologic care. Without any local ophthalmologists, those with eye trouble are seen only infrequently and/or have to travel to seek care. In this largely agricultural region, blindness and other eye ailments can be a terrible burden for patients and their families. The last outreach program to this region was over two years ago.

 KATH’s clinical screening team examined nearly 1,000 people and 103 patients received surgery during the 3 days of surgery held. Of these, there were 3 children who received their vision back and 2 teens. Blindness among children and adolescents is particularly damaging with major impacts on children’s cognitive and physical development, and long-term social and economic challenges for their families. By reaching continuing to its outreach programs and regularly being able to visit villages lacking any ophthalmologic care, KATH is helping to reduce the burden of both childhood and adult blindness across Ghana.

KATH and HCP continue to thank donors like you for your continued support!

Post-Op
Post-Op
Waiting for the bandages to come off
Waiting for the bandages to come off
 
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13 year old Patient given new sight
13 year old Patient given new sight

HCP’s largest partner in Ghana, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) Eye Center, has been steadily expanding its outreach efforts to increase access to cataract surgery to those living in regions with no ophthalmologist. Earlier this month the KATH outreach team conducted its largest cataract campaign to date– providing 402 cataract surgeries in Keta, a coastal town 3 hours east of Accra.  HCP co-founder Dr. Geoff Tabin joined the team including KATH ophthalmologists Dr. Seth Lartey, Dr. Amos Aikens, Dr. Akwasi Ahmed and many hardworking nurses and assistants who worked tirelessly for five days from 7: 30 AM to nearly midnight each night.   

Dr. Tabin commented, “The quality of the surgery has been excellent with great surgical results – by far the best I’ve seen in Ghana!”  There were many shining eyes and happy tears of joy on post-op day, including two women who had been blind for over 10 years, and a young 28-year old mother who hadn’t been able to see her youngest child. Tears of joy flowed watching this young mother see her child for the very first time.

HCP greatly thanks our donors for helping make these outreaches possible. With less than 70 ophthalmologists in the entire country, too many Ghanaians are without vital eye care services. These cataract outreaches help bridge the gap by provided eye health services where they are needed most. 

This young mother is now able to see her children!
This young mother is now able to see her children!
Drs. Geoff Tabin and Seth Lartey
Drs. Geoff Tabin and Seth Lartey
Seeing again
Seeing again
90 year patient now with sight in both eyes
90 year patient now with sight in both eyes
 
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Dr. Frimpong examines patient
Dr. Frimpong examines patient

The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) Eye Center outreach team organized a cataract surgical intervention in the Brong-Ahafo region of South Ghana that screened 3,770 patients and provided 237 cataract surgeries.  The clinical team included KATH's Dr. Doreen Frimpong, Dr. Amos Aikins; HCP International fellow, Dr. John Welling, and two residents, Ahmed Akwasi (3rd year) and Prince Amissah (first year). Other team members included Edgard Afour, Biostatitician and Faustina Adu-Poku, bioengineer. 

Dr. Doreen Frimpong commented on social media after the event: 

"I am always happy when I go on an outreach doing cataract surgeries and giving sight to people. My visit to wenchi in the western region of Ghana was no exception. It was filled with emotions and excitement when a 10 year old girl haven been blind from cataract all her life saw the light of day for the first time .After asking her whether she will use her sight to watch TV, she paused and said Dr no I will be going to school so I can learn with my friends who are already in school. Immediately I was filled with joy and happiness.we were able to do this through the help of an NGO. (HCP) and Komfo Anokye teaching hospital eye center.We are greatful to them."

 

The KATH outreach team dramatically increased its efforts in 2015 thanks to your support, however, there is still a long way to go to alleviate unnecessary cataract blindness. It is estimated that 50,000 cataract surgeries should be performed each year to rid the backlog and keep up with new cases, however, in 2014 the Ghana Health Services only recorded 18,140 cataract surgeries in the entire country of Ghana. 

patients await surgery
patients await surgery
Dr. Akwasi, 3rd year resident examines patient
Dr. Akwasi, 3rd year resident examines patient
 
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The Himalayan Cataract Project's partner organization in Ghana, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) recently took part in a high volume outreach event.

At the end of August and beginning of September, two surgeons, medical staff and two nurses from KATH joined a team from the Tamale Teaching Hospital, as well as a team from the Sunyani Regional Hospital to provide treatment to patients in Kintampo, in the Brong Ahafo region. Patients from six districts (Kintampo, Central Gonjo, Pru, Wenchi, Jema, Nkranza North, and Bamboi) were screened and treated over the course of two weeks. A total of 323 surgeries were performed, including seven surgeries on young children.

 
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Organization

Project Leader

Geoff Tabin

Director
Waterbury, VT United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Outreach Eye Camps in Ghana