Mission ophthalmology report 2011 Tonga, Cameroon
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This mission was organized in Cameroon by Dr Jacques Kemabia, an ophthalmologist who is the head of the Department of ophthalmology of Agogo Hospital, Ghana. He is originally from Cameroon, from the Tonga area, and he wanted to help his own people.
Six members of the nonprofit organization “Right to Sight and Health” participated in this trip from the US: Martha Leirer, RN, Pamela Spranger, RN, Michelle Leirer, Patrick McCarthy, and two ophthalmologists, Donald Macdonald MD and Judith Simon MD.
Tonga is a small but extremely lively town of the Bamileke people with 16 000 inhabitants. There are two hospitals, a Catholic Mission Hospital with 3 nurses and 2 midwifes but no doctor, and a Government Hospital, with a new doctor who just arrived recently. (There was no doctor there before.) We choose the Catholic Mission Hospital for our work, as it was in a better condition and they had running water and a generator, both of which the Government Hospital lacked.
In contrast with our previous missions, we had very little help from the locals. We had an excellent ophthalmic nurse, Paul Katcham working with us, who did the initial visual acuity screening and triage of all patients with his nephew, Vincent Mbami who was an optician. We also had Humphrey Fon Ngwanah, an ophthalmic nurse working with us for a week from a nearby eye-hospital called Acha in Bafoussam. The decision to perform surgery was done by dr Kemabia and also by one of our ophthalmologists.
We saw about 1700 patients during our 10.5 days of clinic, as patients already started to come on Sunday.
We performed 93 cataract surgeries, 80 with PC IOL, 10 with ACIOL (out of these, 4 were subluxated/traumatic cataracts.) and 3 without IOL.(One was end-stage glaucoma operated on to prevent lens-induced glaucoma, the other was a traumatic cataract with dropped nucleus, and the third with vitreous loss/collapsed eye.) One 17 year old boy had simultaneous cataract surgery on both eyes. There was one reoperation of a patient with retained epinucleus. We also performed 5 pterygium surgeries, all for pterygiums threatening or invading the visual axis, 2 of these with free conjunctival autotransplant. There were 2 upper lid entropion surgeries for trachoma,1 lower lid ectropion surgery, 1corneal scraping for band keratopathy and 1 chalazion surgery. We had 2 operating tables, 2 microscopes and 2 scrubnurses. Altogether we performed surgery on 103 eyes.
We operated on the second eye of 14 patients. These surgeries were scheduled 1 to 7 days after the first eye surgery, and were performed only if the first eye was healing well. 5 patients who were scheduled for surgery did not return for it.
We trained dr Kemabia in the use of the A-scan. He trained us in medical and surgical decision-making. This was our first time working together with an African doctor,other than with residents, therefore his experience was invaluable for us.
Overall, this was a very successful mission and we were told that the community was extremely satisfied with us. We even had patients coming to see us from Duala (a 6 hrs drive.) There has never been an eye-mission in this part of Cameroon.
We want to say a huge « THANK YOU » to Dr Jacques Kemabia and his family who helped him in the organization and logistics for making this possible.