Belgian Team Report

26 JANUARY - 2 FEBRUARY 2008

With three surgeons and two nurses we tried to plan our trip as well as possible with the advanced and forwarded information.

We took meshes (kindly donated by B. Braun Medical NV Belgium), gloves (double pairs), disposable drapes (Mölnlycke Belgium) and gowns (Sterima Belgium), local anaesthetics, analgesics (Paracetamol), syringes and needles, and a lot (two bags) of small gifts and sweets. Bard Benelux partly sponsored our team. After arriving at Takoradi on Saturday night Brian Dixon waited for us and brought us to the Doctor's Transit Lodge where we stayed the whole week. Due to the Africa Cup the Planters Lodge was not availbale, but we did not miss it. We were taken good care of by Brians team (Kate and Grace), who made a wonderful breakfast, a nice lunch and an even better dinner at night. After arrival at the hospital on Monday morning we could immediately start working, while a strict progam was made beforehand with selection of patients as early as November 2007. Dr. Boateng- Duah (GPHA-Hospital) hopes in the future he can send already a program to the visiting teams.

We could operate in three theaters (two in Takoradi hospital and one in Ghana Port and Harbour Authority Hospital) and did 59 operations on 54 patients (of which seven were children). Important to point out is, that we did not only operate on groin hernias but also nine ventral hernias and two hydroceles. I would advise teams in future to take also meshes for umbilical hernias (type Ventralex) and for preperitoneal repair (type Polysoft) in recurrent hernias. A more extensive repair (retromuscular mesh) for ventral hernia is not easily done under local anaesthesia. We used the Mosquito-mesh only once.

The operation-theatres were well equiped, but the operation-light in GPHA-hospital needs to be renewed. The next mission should also bring new scissors or an instrument to sharpen the scissors. Swan-Morton knives nr. 15 would be wellcome instead of nr. 11 knives. Although we made long days we all felt inspired with our work. Two of us were interviewed by TV Africa while working and this was broadcoasted Africa-wide (Dr. Boateng-Duah promised us a copy on CD-rom). One of the questions asked was how to prevent hernias. We answered there is no prevention for groin hernia, but please come sooner for the operation and do not wait so long.

In the evenings Brian Dixon took care of us and we managed to visit a football game (Nigeria-Benin), take a tour in the harbour on a boat and visited a village. Friday night we invited managers and doctors from the hospitals, people from the local authorities and members of the Takoradi community for a gala dinner at Planters Lodge (sponored by J&J Belgium) in which we strengthened the bonds between Operation Hernia and Takoradi.

On Saturday, on our way back to Accra, we visited the rainforest, the crocodile lodge and El Mina. After a quick refreshment and a last meal we left Accra on Saturday night to land in Brussels again on Sunday morning.

Our thanks go to the doctors and nurses in both hospitals, the local authorities, Kristie (a Canadian nurse who volunteerly helped us), the local staff (Kate, Grace) and last but not least Brian Dixon, without whom nothing would have run as it did.

We all intend to come back next year.

Casper Sommeling