Given the state of the local healthcare infrastructure, Africa Surgery is the only organization in Sierra Leone that can help patients afflicted with severe spinal problems and deformities. As a result, this is Africa Surgery’s most ambitious and most comprehensive program.
Tuberculosis is rampant in Sierra Leone and can spread quickly, infecting the spine along with other organs. Furthermore, spinal deformities such as scoliosis and congenital spinal problems go undiagnosed and untreated, due to a lack of programs and facilities to assess the population.
Africa Surgery attempts to fill this gap by providing:
- Initial screening and assessment through a team of experienced field workers. Patients are referred to us by hospitals, or simply by word of mouth.
- Initial treatment (in the case of tuberculosis, medication is free through the World Health Organization).
- X-rays in local hospitals.
- In-depth assessment, diagnosis and patient prioritization, with the help of FOCOS.
- Pre-surgery lab tests, to establish fitness for surgical procedure.
- Scheduling of patients to be flown to Accra, Ghana for surgery.
- Procurement of passports, welfare papers, legal consents, air travel, chaperones, interpreters and rehabilitation programs for patients flown to Ghana.
Once in Ghana, treatments are performed for free by FOCOS volunteer surgeons and medical professionals. Africa Surgery pays for hospital stay, food, rehabilitation and related travel/chaperone expenses.
On average, each patient stays in Ghana for three months, at a total cost for Africa Surgery of about $10,000. Our most recent group comprised 21 patients.
Surgeries are scheduled on an individual need basis, with a standing waiting list that currently includes:
- about 40 first-priority patients;
- about 30 second-priority patients;
- about 20 patients being assessed.
Surgery schedule is limited by available funds, as well as by the capacity of Ghana hospitals to accommodate our patients.
Up to now, we have treated over 100 patients, with a success rate of over 95%. They are mostly children, who generally can expect greater benefit from this type of treatment. For some patients, recovery has been nothing short of a miracle.