Swedish team, Takoradi, Ghana
Members of the team were Par Nordin (surgeon), Eva Nordin (operation nurse), and Erik Nilsson (surgeon).
We were kindly received by Martin, a co-worker of Graham Bell, when we arrived at Accra airport Friday evening. On Saturday Martin took us to Takoradi, with a stop at a crocodile park! Anita and Graham Bell were our hosts in Takoradi, and they showed us hospitality beyond imagination.
On Sunday we met Dr Bernard Boateng-Duah, who in his gentle manner supported us throughout the hernia week. He and his surgical colleagues had selected patients for surgery. On Monday morning we started operating at the Hernia Wing in Takoradi Hospital, and at the end of the week we had operated 33 patients from 8 to 75 years old, three with epigastric/umbilical hernia, one with incisional hernia, and 29 patients with groin hernia (three with bilateral hernias).
As expected, hernias in Ghana were more advanced compared to what we usually see in at home. However, all but four patients could be treated in local anesthesia. We had the possibility of using to operation theaters. It was a delight to work with the well trained nursing staff. The anesthesiology nurses were very efficient and managed to get an intravenous needle in the right place in a minimum of time. As the mission of "Operation Hernia" is to teach hernia surgery as well as to treat patients, we would have appreciated the attendance of a local trainee surgeon. However, it is easy to understand the difficulty in organizing surgical education in a country like Ghana, which has suffered an enormous brain drain in recent years.
After the hernia days we saw the local market and had a swimming tour in a wonderful beach west of Takoradi. On our way back to Accra we visited the Elmina Castle and considered dark history. As none of us had been to Ghana before, we took the opportunity to see the surroundings of Accra, including National Parks with animals we had read about, but never seen before.
We thank Operation Hernia for giving us the opportunity to work inside health care in Ghana. We met friends in a culture with colours and flavors more intense than at home. And surely, we want to return.