UK Team, Bole, Northern Ghana

7-12 NOVEMBER 2010

Operation Hernia broke new grounds in 2010 in Northern Ghana. Chris Oppong, Consultant Surgeon (and Director of Operation Hernia, Ghana) teamed up with Richard Dalton, a senior Surgical Registrar at Derriford Hospital, UK to work at Bole Hospital from November 7 to 12. Both of us had worked at the Operation Hernia centre at Carpenter the previous week. The other Operation Hernia Centre in Northern Ghana is at Nalerigu Baptist Hospital in the north west.

Chris Oppong
Chris Oppong

Bole is a town north east of Carpenter, about an hours drive on mostly good road with tarmac. It has a population of about 130,000 friendly people. The catchment population of the hospital is much higher.

Welcome: We received the traditional warm Ghanaian welcome at the hospital from the Medical Director Dr Joe Nyuz, the theatre and ward staff. They were all extremely respectful and hard working. They responded in a remarkable manner to our briefing and worked very efficiently. We were surprised when all the theatre staff agreed to support routine theatre work on a Sunday and a national holiday to help us operate on as many patients as we possibly could.

The Medical Director is a forward thinking administrator who has embarked on a project to renovate the run down hospital. The outpatients department has been transformed.

Accommodation: Accommodation was very good by local standards. We lodged in a government Guest House, in air conditioned en-suite rooms. Food was provided by caterers in the guest house. The whole Guest house and individual rooms are mosquito proofed. Laundry facilities were provided.

Theatre Facilities: The hospital has two air-conditioned theatres equipped with operating tables. The main theatre has a modern anaesthetic machine and a ceiling lamp which requires regular adjustment. The minor theatre has a standing theatre lamp but has no anaesthetic machine. Operation Hernia provided diathermy machines, 1 Little sister autoclave and 4 sets of hernia surgical instruments, in addition to the usual theatre consumables. Most of the hernias were, as usual repaired under local anaesthetic. All patients whose hernias were not amenable to LA repair had Spinal anaesthetic. We were immensely impressed with the skill of the experienced nurse anaesthetist. We cannot comment on his GA skills. All the patients were admitted post-op and discharged the ff day. This was due to poor access to transportation.

The hospital has reliable water supply. There is also a generator back up to electricity supply. On one occasion we had interruption of electricity supply. For a hospital in a developing country this is not unacceptable.

Operation Hernia Database: All operations were recorded on Operation Hernia Database. All hernias were graded according to Kingsnorth Grading. All patients were due to be followed up within a fortnight by the Medical director and post operative complications recorded on the database. In all we performed 83 surgical procedures in 67 patients.

Social: We were taken on a tour of a massive hydroelectric project in the Bole District. A planned visit to a game Park had to be postponed. An informal send off reception was organised for us.

Conclusion: Bole Hospital has great potential. We enjoyed our stay. The welcome was heartwarming. Staff very efficient. They are keen to host more than one Operation Hernia team per year. I will recommend Bole Hospital enthusiastically to all volunteers. We plan 2 visits in 2011- April and November.

Chris Oppong & Richard Dalton
Plymouth UK