04 Nov A Time to Care…A Time to Share
A Recap of the 2015 CaringMeds Medical Missions Trip
By: Dr. Damon Daniels
On a sultry hot evening a young teenage mother sat in a line of fellow villagers nervously hoping that her young infant boy could be seen by our team. We had been there for 3 days and would be ending our mission in her village in just an hour. She had been waiting for THREE DAYS but her son had not been able to be seen yet. He was not eating well and had a large “growth” coming from his belly button and his testicle. She did not know that I had just told our team that we would have to stop the clinic in the next hour because it was getting dark and the electricity was not working as well on that day. I could tell that the team was exhausted and it seemed as if we could never get through the line of villagers that were waiting. One of our local village leaders stepped out of a side clinic entry doors where villagers were pressed against the door hoping to get in. He announced in the Language of Fanti that we were closing. Immediately an outburst of chatter began in the native language of the people. Although I did not understand what was being said the language was filled with disappointment and discontent.
One of our Ghanaian partners observed the young girl who began to sob quietly holding her infant son in her arms. The partner whisked the girl around the other side of the building and privately brought in to see me. She told me the circumstances and I agree to see the boy. Immediately I saw that he had one of the largest umbilical hernias (this is when the belly button does not close properly after birth). In addition he had another hernia in his scrotum. I pressed on the hernia in the scrotum and the young infant boy began to squirm.
I began to think that in the United States that this problem would be a simple fix. I would see the infant and do a quick physical exam. Hop on my laptop computer and complete and note in the patients electronic medical record. I could then easily send a referral to a local pediatric surgeon and get an appointment for him within a couple of weeks. He would then have surgery with a very low risk of complications. Such was not the case in the small village of Baifikrom, Ghana. The nearest hospital was about 2 hours away. In addition, there was no pediatric surgeon. There were surgeons from out of the country that routinely came to the hospital to operate on patients (this was a hospital run by a missionary organization). The wait for the surgery would be very long. In addition the mother would not be able to afford the surgery much less the cost of paying a taxi driver to get to the hospital. I had to tell this mother that there was absolutely nothing that I could do and told her that she would have to go the hospital . . . knowing that it was unlikely that the boys problem would be fixed any time soon.
Although this story is heart wrenching the fact is that there were many villagers that were greatly impacted by our recent medical missions to Ghana, West Africa. In three days at the village we were able to see approximately 450 patients who needed medical and dental care. In fact I saw several patients that were treated for wounds in 2013. There wounds were completely healed since then and they came back in 2015 to thank our team. We dispensed over 1000 prescriptions during those three days as well. The smiling faces and words of thanks were more valuable than the challenges of providing in a rural African village.
The CaringMeds program has gone to Africa in 2011, 2013 and 2015. We are embarking on a bold initiative to transform healthcare in Ghana through healthcare training, Telemedicine activities and further medical missions trips. We will be partnering with Fountainhead Christian University in this effort to train nurses and other healthcare professionals who will become an “Army of Hope”. Please go to our webpage at www.caringmeds.org and sign up be a volunteer. We are looking for individuals that will give of their time and resources. In 2016 we will be forming a non-profit organization that will serve to manage our future efforts. We will be looking for partners to assist us in our upcoming programs. If you are interested in becoming a partner please send us an email to email@example.com
Thanks in advance,
Damon Daniels MD, MPH