The volunteers numbering nearly 49 are coming to Ghana courtesy of Operation Hernia Foundation, a UK based charity organization. They are expected to spend two weeks undertaking hernia operations at Carpenter in the Brong Ahafo region and Bole in the Northern region.
In an interview with DAILY GUIDE , Christopher Damankah, Coordinator of the programme said the visiting volunteers will use a new technology called 'MESH' where patients are discharged the same day the operation is performed.
He said the interesting part of the programme is that the volunteers will train local doctors and nurses working at the hospitals where the surgeries will take place so they can take over from them when they return to their home countries. They are also expected to leave behind all their operating equipment when they complete the programme.
The foundation has so far supported surgical services not only in Ghana but Nigeria, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Mongolia, Moldova and Ecuador as well.
It has undertaken over 50 humanitarian missions and treated over 4000 patients that otherwise would not have received a potentially life-saving operation Mr. Damankah noted adding that there were plans for further expansion.
Surgeon volunteers he said are mainly drawn from members of the European Hernia Society by Andrew Kingsnorth, the Past-President of the European Hernia Society. Mr. Kingsnorth recruits volunteers, initiates them and organizes the missions, he explained.
Operation Hernia which was initiated in Takoradi in 2005 is an independent UK charity and non-profit organization with links to the American College of Surgeons' Operation Giving Back Organization. It is intended to treat and teach medical personnel how to perform inguinal hernia surgery in low and middle income countries.
Inguinal hernia is a public health problem in many low income countries.
Although it develops at all ages (mainly in men) and in all parts of the world with the same frequency, in poor areas they are not treated due to lack of hospitals and surgeons.
The rural healthcare workforce in low and middle-income countries is severely depleted due to migration of its workers to better paid and better equipped facilities in urban areas.
As a result, numerous deaths and cases of permanent disability occur because inguinal hernias requiring elective or urgent surgery are not treated.
In rural Africa, it has been estimated that less than 1 in 5 inguinal hernias requiring surgery actually receive an operation. Many patients with neglected hernias that may strangulate do not even reach a hospital, and die needlessly.
Previously, fit and young people die because simple surgical services are unaffordable.
In rural areas worldwide, basic surgical services are not available and there is no possibility that governments will be able to provide such facilities in the near future.
Partnerships are required between charities such as Operation Hernia and NGOs in order to provide surgical care delivered by teams of volunteers.
Managers of the foundation as well as past volunteers are grateful to the Member of Parliament for Kpone-Katamanso, Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo for the immense support he has been providing to the volunteers who come to Ghana.
By Razak Mardorgyz Abubakar