ANPA Week Nigeria, March 21-27, 2016
Our inaugural ANPA week involved key Advocacy strategic meetings with various partners and governmental agencies (NUC, MDCN, NMA, Junior Chambers International, Channels TV, Senate and House committees on Health, Ministry of Health, etc.) in Abuja, and a very successful Medical Mission to Jos, Plateau State. Drs. Nkem Chukwumerije and Abraham Osinbowale will elaborate details of the meetings in different communications.
I hereby share the medical mission activities with you along with some supporting pictures attached (more to follow). Of note, this was the first ANPA SPONSORED medical mission in over seven years! Brave ANPA members that participated were our Honorable President, Dr. Nkem Chukwumerije, our Advocacy committee Chair, Dr. Abraham Osinbowale, our Houston chapter Chair elect, Dr. Barbara Onyia, DNPT Member Chair and Medical Mission committee member, Dr. Adebola Giwa, and myself, Dr. Cliff Eke, Chair Medical Mission committee.
Several of our brave Nigerian colleagues also volunteered to complete our team, including physicians, surgeons ( many from Jos University Teaching Hospital), gynecologist, anesthesiologist, dentist, pharmacist, nurse anesthetists, social workers, counselors, pastors, nurses, residents, youth corpers, medical students, etc. Space would not permit me to mention each person/specialty but we appreciate them a lot since the mission would not have been as successful without their participation!
Special thanks to the those that helped me with planning and logistics: Dr. Nkem Chukwumerije, Drs. Chris & Mercy Isichei, Dr. Ken Enwerem, Dr. Aso Ofoegbu, Biana Grogg, BK Crider, Latisha Dutch, AmeriCares, and Globus Relief.
Upon arrival we were met at the airport by Dr. Chris Isichei, Founder/CEO Faith Alive Foundation (FAF), our local partner. He had already made arrangements that allowed for our passage through Immigration and Customs with ease, despite about ten excess luggage containing various medications and surgical supplies.
We spent the next few days in Abuja participating in crucial meetings that will help shape the country’s health policies, continuous professional development, and our future advocacy efforts.
Next, we traveled by FAF bus to their charity hospital in Jos to join the medical and surgical mission that was already in progress. We were warmly received and they were very glad that we came to help, and appreciated the medicines and surgical supplies that we donated to them on behalf of ANPA.
The medical team saw and attended to many patients in clinics and in the wards. A special case of collaboration involved a postoperative open prostatectomy patient who developed SVT. Our medical colleagues ordered appropriate tests, interpreted EKG, and effectively controlled it, while the surgeons were in the operating theater. Dr. Osinbowale even went back to the hospital later that night to check on the patient, who did well.
We also had opportunities for group Health Education, which usually occurred after morning devotions in the hospital waiting area, and involved all staff, volunteers, and patients, before commencement of clinical duties. One such valuable session (even to us) was on Dental and oral hygiene presented by Dr. Aso Ofoegbu, our Nigeria based Dentist volunteer.
The surgical team performed a variety of operations including thyroidectomies, large ear keloids excision, breast lumpectomies, accessory breast excision, burn scar contracture release and V-Y advancement flaps, multiple hernias repairs with mesh (incisional, umbilical, inguinal), pediatric hernia repairs, uterine myomectomies, lipomas, prostatectomy, appendectomies, and various “lumps and bumps” to mention a few.
Intraoperatively, we shared skills of surgical techniques (eg indications and use of different meshes), did cases together with local consultant surgeons, shared surgical knowledge and practice challenges in resource scarce areas (eg operating without cauterizing machine), and most importantly taught residents, medical students and OR staff. In fact a third year surgical resident at JUTH who volunteered with us said he did more cases and learned a lot more in the one week with us than the three prior months.
These are the other advantages of medical missions beyond the free care received by the appreciative patients. We, visiting volunteers, also benefit along with the local consultants and staff, plus the trainees who get hands on instructions and mentoring.
Faith is indeed Alive in this location in Jos, where diverse people of Nigeria (male, female, children, rich, poor, Muslim, Christian, professional, non-professional, etc) and even volunteers and workers of various colors from different parts of the world, all intermingled and got along like one big loving family! Everyone performed their duties with enthusiasm and a smile, a rare combination in Nigeria. There was no security issues and we felt safe, despite not having armed guards. These and many more attributes set FAF and Jos apart from several other missions that I have participated in over many years.
In fact, FAF Jos is where I appreciated the warm, compassionate care given to HIV+ patients, and where I learnt that AIDS also stands for “Am I Doing Something?” This begs the question each of us need to ask ourselves.
The smile on the faces of satisfied patients brings priceless joy and satisfaction, which you can only deeply feel or appreciate when you go on one of these missions! So I invite you to join us next year for ANPA week or volunteer for other upcoming ANPA certified missions in the interim.
See you all in June at Las Vegas!
Cliff Eke, MD, FACS, FICS
Chair, ANPA Medical Mission Committee