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This is a report of our ophthalmic mission to Kedougou, Region Tambacounda, Senegal from March 9-20.
The main purpose of our mission was to operate on patients who are blind from cataracts. The group arriving from the US had four members:
Dr Donald Macdonald, opththalmologist and oculoplastic specialist
Dr Judith Simon, opththalmologist
Dr Alexandra Vadasz, internist and opththalmologist
Hermina Whyte, registered nurse
The logistics in Senegal, especially in Kedougou were organized by two Peace Corps volunteers, Matt McLaughlin and Michelle Lehman. They both did an excellent job ensuring patient flow, organization with clinic and OR work, providing translators and clinic workers for the patients and coordinating our interaction with the local hospital staff.
And last but not least, the staff of the Kedougou Hospital was an invaluable help to achieve our mission goals. Mr Amadou Fall, Technicien Supérieur de Santé spent weeks before our arrival to prescreen patients who needed cataract surgery. He was working with us every day, ensuring appropriate patient care and interaction, and discussing with us difficult patients, patients who needed referrals, or later appointments with him,etc. He assisted us with surgeries in the OR. He performed trachoma surgery on 6 patients, and taught us the Trabut technique for repair of trichiasis. He took part in the postoperative exam of the patients and will follow them after our departure. We left all our clinic and surgical records of all patients operated on in his care.
Mr Mouhmadou Bassirou Sall, Technicien Supérieur en Anesthesie Reanimation was also a great help to us: He was also working with us every day, ensuring that the OR functioned properly, assisting us daily with surgeries in the OR and helping us with supplies and the technical aspects of surgery.
Dr Sene, the director of the hospital also welcomed us warmly and facilitated our work.
We performed 102 cataract surgeries, 5 secondary implants and 1 ptosis procedure. Dr Fall performed the Trabut surgery on 6 patients, 12 eyelids total.
We have seen close to 900 patients in consultation, and we gave advice regarding many different eye-problems: Glaucoma, early cataract, eye-injury, floaters, headache, refractive error, presbypoia, pterygium, corneal scars, macular scars, dry eyes, ocular allergies, secondary membranes, aphakia, irreversible blindness, etc.
We also distributed antibiotic, steroid and anti-inflammatory eyedrops for postoperative care and for appropriate ocular conditions.
Unfortunately there were many patients whom we could not help.
We encountered several patients with aphakia but no aphakic glasses and no means of buying them. 5 of these we operated on with secondary implants. 3 more we gave aphakic glasses. We marked the names and addresses of 9 more aphakic patients, for whom we will try to acquire aphakic glasses in the US and mail them to Dr Fall, who promised to distribute them.
We diagnosed many patients with end-stage glaucoma. We informed their family that they needed to return to see Dr Fall for glaucoma screening and possible treatment. We also saw several patients with early or moderate glaucoma, all of them will be followed by Dr Fall. We participated in a radio program in Kedougou FM 93.9, where dr Fall informed the families of patients being blind or diagnosed with glaucoma to come to see him for glaucoma screening.
On our way back from Kedougou, we visited the Department of Ophthalmology of the Tambacounda Hospital. We met with Dr Souleymane Ndoy, and we had a long discussion with him about ophthalmic care in general in Senegal. He was extremely informative and kind to us.
We would like to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped us for making our mission possible. We were extremely pleased by the kindness, hospitality and hard work of the local hospital staff, who made our mission a success. It was our pleasure to serve to people of Kedougou. We hope that our cooperation will become a long-term project and that we will be able to participate in the ophthalmic care of Kedougou, or possibly of other areas of Senegal in need of eye-care on a continued, yearly basis.