Arusha — A GROUP of 45 surgeons from the US state of California have set camp at the Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre in town where they are offering free medical services.
The rather large group of doctors from Los-Angeles includes orthopaedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, physical therapists, theatre technicians, registered oral nurses, recovery room nurses and post-operative nurses as well as other supporting staff.
This is the first time that the doctors are practicing in Africa working under the "Operation Walk International" programme which specializes in total joint replacement of severe incapacitating arthritis. Under the humanitarian service, the surgeons who arrived here last week, expect to perform between forty five and fifty joint replacements throughout this week commencing on the 6th of June.
Although the operating service as well as the implants is being offered for free, a small contribution of 100,000/- is encouraged and would be appreciated but in the event that a patient is totally unable to pay, they will not be turned away if they really require the surgery.
The average cost of a joint replacement is about 3.5 million/-, an amount that is out of reach for many people and therefore the humanitarian service is expected to help many people who would otherwise be unable to seek medical care for their ailments due to financial concerns.
"The volunteer surgeons are highly experienced and they will be working closely with our team of surgeons here," said Dr Paul Kisanga the Surgeon-in-charge at ALMC adding that such services will be conducted at the hospital every year. The 45 volunteers will be working with fourteen specialists who are currently operating at Selian to ensure that they make a difference and help those who need it most.
The group of volunteer doctors which includes two internal medicine specialists conducts pre-screening on the patients whereby they then confer and discuss who is eligible for the operation. "We are really excited, this is one of the biggest programmes in this country involving joint replacements" added Dr Kisanga.
The Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre formerly Selian hospital, also works closely with a number of other foundations and programmes including Sioux City Tanzania Education and Medical Ministry (STEMM). According to Dr Kisanga, Selian has been working with STEMM, who send representatives twice a year, for the past fifteen years.
Another programme called 'SMILE network' is expected to commence on the 7th of July this year and will be dealing with cleft lips and palates. Moreover, an annual countrywide workshop involving a number of major hospitals in Tanzania is expected to take place in October 2012.
The workshop will be on microscopic surgery and is expected to be a great success. For many, it is comforting to note all the different workshops and programmes that are scheduled to take place at Selian for the greater benefit of the people who would otherwise lack medical attention for their serious ailments.