In writing this post, I have thought of countless ways to get the message across and highlight not only diverse problems faced by Africans at home, but also the continuous, consistent self sacrifice by both individuals and group of people to provide immediate and lasting solution to some of these problems. I hope over time to touch on different areas like literacy, technology, maternal and child health and so on, especially where those of us within Africa On The Blog are actively involved, so please feel free to contact and update me.
Sometimes last year, I wrote on Health Tourism using Nigeria as an example of failing health care provision that had let it’s people down and inadvertently boosting the economy of other Countries using simple measures that could easily be put in place by Strategic planning, foresight and sustainability. While few rich Africans and some African Leaders seek healthcare abroad; thousands if not millions live with debilitating illness and conditions often not able to afford transportation to the hospital, how much more pay for treatment, medication or Surgery when required.
This is where the West African College of Surgeons comes in. A group of Surgeons, Anaesthetists and Allied Health in the College that are in Diaspora gets together every year, to volunteer and operate for free- the week before the scientific meeting in whichever African Country the meeting is being held.
The Clinical outreach has been going on for Four years and my experience and observations are coincidentally the same in all the Countries.
Famous for love of Big Structures and Buildings, most of the hospitals at first instance are often impressive; but the problems become apparent as one enters the Hospitals with hundreds of patients waiting in anticipation- the Major problem many faced is Finance, with lack of equipment, water, Intravenous fluid and basic things like dressings and linen compounding it.
So, every year the team takes Annual Leave, fully fund their travel fare taking as many medical aids (often donated by companies) and head for designated African Country for that year to perform Surgical Procedures for free on patients who otherwise would not have had sometimes life saving Surgical procedures. We also use the opportunity to train and pass on skills to Local Practitioners who are always supportive and grateful for the Help and support.
We strive to do as much as we can average 150- 250 surgical procedures in one week often across 2 hospitals.
It is hard work and tiring; but the level of appreciation by the patients and relatives, the look of relieve and joy on mothers faces and the realization of how easy it is to take thing for granted makes it more fulfilling and worth the sacrifice. We are already planning for next year’s outreach.
Healthcare provision is not the only area Africans in Diaspora are making an impact; Empowerment, self sufficiency and sustainability is on the agenda as well. ‘Help them help Themselves‘ is an initiative that our own Ida (who is also the Chairperson) and a group of others have been spear heading since 2008 in Ruhanga SW Uganda ~supporting the provision of social services like clean water, mosquito nets and education they have successfully built from scratch a school for 500 children. That- is no small feat! Kudos to you all. They are currently working on skills for girls- something I am passionate about. There are 15 girls on the village bike repair initiative and a permanent workshop is being built for them. Imagine what impact this will have if this is embraced and funded by the Government and replicated across Africa!
The Million-dollar question is -Which way Africa? When are our Leaders going to see what we in Diaspora see, that we are so passionate to heal our Lands and restore hope to our people?