BY HABTOM TESFAMICHAEL | SHABAIT
Parallel to the efforts being made to provide secure, affordable and quality health service, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has been working, in collaboration with partners, to provide medical assistance from friendly institutions to participate in the medical efforts of the Ministry to provide special assistance to people who need expertise surgeries.
The Al-Basar medical team, a branch of the International Humanitarian Foundation in the Sudan, has been in Eritrea for over a month offering medical assistance to thousands of people. The close cooperation between the MoH and the Foundation goes back to the mid-1990s. This year, Al- Basar medical team has completed its mission of providing medical assistance to around 13,000 people who had eye problems.
The Foundation is a non-governmental, non-profit organization registered in several countries working to combat blindness through a comprehensive and integrated program. It started its operations in 1989 in the Sudan.
Al-Basar has operational centers in a number of Eritrean towns as determined by the MoH every year. The operation centers have given effective services including medical examinations, operations and distributing medicine and eye-glasses, benefiting thousands of patients. It has helped thousands of people by reducing their suffering and saving them from blindness.
This year Al-Basar has set-up mobile operational centers in three towns — Massawa, Keren and Adi-Keih – and carried out medical check-up and operations from 11th September to 1st October 2019.
Prof. Muhammad Noor Hassan, the director of the medical team and former head of Ophthalmology Department of the University of Khartoum, said that the operational centers, which have been fully coordinated by the MoH, have successfully completed their mission, carried out around 1,281 restorative surgeries performed with the latest VICO equipment, distributed 3,700 glasses and provided 6,000 treatment supplies. All in all medical check-up was conducted on 13,800 patients.
The Al-Basar group from Sudan conducted its first operation this year in the city of Massawa, from 11 to 16 September, over 424 citizens who came from all over the Northern Red Sea region.
Prof. Muhammad said that their work was effective and successful as a result of the awareness-raising campaigns conducted in the districts, noting that the annual program organized in coordination with the medical team contributes greatly to the sharing of experiences.
Dr. Berhe Tesfay, the medical director of the project, said that in addition to the service it provides they are gaining good experience from its good relationship with the medical team. To oversee the implementation of the program, Minister of Health Amina Nur Hussein visited the citizens who underwent eye surgery.
The city of Keren was the second stop for the medical team where it stayed from 18 to 23 September. The team conducted surgeries in Keren for 415 citizens, including six children under the age of fourteen. Medical check-up was conducted on 4,600 patients and 1,244 glasses were distributed.
The director of the team, Prof. Muhammad Noor Hassan, said that the work was exceptional in terms of organization, coordination and speed. The appropriate working climate was the result of the prior preparations made.
Laser surgeries provided significant opportunities for technology transfer and exchange of experiences. Furthermore, lectures were given to patients during the six-day medical campaign on the use of medicines and glasses.
The town of Adi Keih was the last stop of the team. From 24 September to 1 October it conducted surgeries on 442 patients, distributed 1300 glasses and carried out medical check-ups.
Prof. Muhammad said that all the patients who underwent operations had very excellent results, and there were no complications. The local hospitals will be prepared to follow up the patients’ operations 45 days from now.
The delegation had previously visited Eritrea to prepare for three eye operational centers aimed at preventing blindness in cooperation with the MoH. Dr. Ahmed Kamal, Regional Director of the International Charity Foundation, said the program is based on a partnership between the Foundation and the Ministry of Health of Eritrea.
For his part, Prof. Muhammad said that a similar program has long been coordinated with Eritrea, and many operational centers have been set up in various sites including Asmara, Keren, Mendefera, Barentu, Ghindae, and others in the past.
The medical team is made up of 20 medical personnel, including an integrated medical team with ophthalmologists, and orthopedic technicians, operation technicians and administrators to provide integrated work for the team.
Every year a large number of patients are examined, their cases diagnosed, and they are given the necessary medical assistance.
Prof. Muhammad said that there are various eye diseases, some of which are caused by infections, trachoma, glaucoma and refractive errors, myopia and farsightedness. He added that the surgeries were carried out using the latest technology including laser therapy device or the VICO.
Prof. Muhammad pointed out that the aim of the operation is not only to provide medical services but also to train the medical staff, and this approach has had a very significant impact on the medical staff working in the field of ophthalmology. The Foundation is open to training from all countries, and has a specialized faculty in this field. He added that students of medicine in Eritrea will be sent to Sudan for training and specialization in the next few years.
Regarding the preparation of the operation centers, Prof. Muhammad said, “Patients are prepared for medical examinations by Eritrean doctors who determine the cases that come to our attention so that we could deal with these cases. We then make necessary examinations and provide treatment or surgery”.
“We come to Eritrea once a year, but we stay in more than one operation center. We have many countries in Africa where we operate. This is the Sudan branch, while other branches of the humanitarian foundation are operating in Asia and other regions.
The operation center moves from one area to another after completing its task, and patients who undergo operations are monitored very carefully. The local health centers follow-up those who undergo operations.
— KSrelief (@KSRelief_EN) September 17, 2019
We just returned from a VERY successful Mission Trip to Asmara, Eritrea! Many hours, blood, sweat, and care went into painstakingly putting the mission 'magic bags' together! Day 1! pic.twitter.com/xGxFV1iAkL
— Surgeons for Smiles (@Surgeon4Smiles) October 9, 2019