Multicenter plastic surgery outreach services for underserved Ghanaian communities
This paper describes the efforts of one plastic surgery team composed of Ghanaians from one of the major metropolitan areas in Ghana to meet the plastic surgery needs of rural Ghanaian communities. The aim was to analyze retrospectively the cases managed by the team, the difficulties which arose over a 14-year period, and the provision of recommendations for such future work. This study reviewed the medical records of patients treated during 86 outreach visits to nine centers from October 1995 to September 2009. The team, drawn from three hospitals, comprised a plastic surgeon and surgical support staff. They mostly treated Buruli ulcers, postburns scar contractures, chronic ulcers, facial clefts, tumors, and breast diseases. In all, 2,284 patients were managed during the period under review, giving an average of 163 patients per year and 254 per center. Buruli ulcers accounted for the largest group of cases treated during the outreaches (41%). Other common diagnoses were postburn scar contractures and cleft lip and palate deformities. This paper provides an example of the possibilities for surgical outreach work that exist and how challenges that come up during surgical outreach visits can be handled effectively. It also highlights the need for outreach medical work in developing countries like Ghana, especially since there is a reduction in foreign outreach medical missions. The authors encourage all stakeholders involved in health care delivery to initiate and support local medical outreach teams to provide care to rural communities.
KeywordsBurns reconstruction Buruli ulcer Cleft lip/palate Breast diseases Outreach
We very much appreciate the meals provided by the Managing Director of the Cisneros Villa Resort, a leading hotel at Sogakope, one of the outreach centers. Also, we thank the management of the South Tongu District Hospital at Sogakope for provision of lunch to the team members in the last 2 years of the visits. This gesture had prompted the team to continue the visits there. We also thank the entire centers for accepting to work with our team. And, of course, we thank all the patients who gave us the honor to treat them.
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