Life-Saving Cancer Screenings, Treatment On Their Way to Ghana Thanks to New Operation International Team
January 23, 2024
Women who previously were unable to get cancer screenings in their home region in Ghana will soon be able to get diagnosed and treated in the same day thanks to a new Operation International team.
The Women’s Health Team, which completed their first mission this January, has made plans to set up Holy Family Hospital with enough advanced equipment that the facility can provide consistent cervical and breast cancer screening currently not available in the region.
The much-needed medical care will be a long-term goal for the team, whose volunteers provide gynecology, breast and advanced laparoscopic surgery.
“The cervical cancer screening will be a see and treat program in which we will identify precancerous lesions and remove them at the same visit,” said Vito Alamia, MD, FACOG, the leader of the Women’s Health Team. “We are planning the installation of mammogram unit and initiate screening and follow up breast biopsies.”
Operation International’s Women’s Health Team was formed by Dr. Alamia this year with the mission of providing free, quality women’s healthcare to those in need. Dr. Alamia has been a member of Team New York for more than 20 years and is a board member at the organization.
Putting Down Roots
While the screening capabilities are still in the future, the team has already made great strides in improving women’s healthcare at Holy Family Hospital.
During their maiden mission in January, the team trained 83 providers in neonatal resuscitation.
They also provided five lectures to local staff. Lecture topics included hypertension in pregnancy and postpartum hemorrhage.
The eventual breast and cervical cancer screening capability is the latest in Operation International’s plans to expand the capabilities of their base in Techiman, Ghana this year. The organization also has plans to open a neurological center at the hospital in the spring.
Changing Lives At Any Age
The educational sessions were in addition to a week’s worth of life-changing medical procedures. The team of three gynecologists, OR nurses, anesthesia CRNAs, a nurse educator, a breast surgeon completed 63 surgeries during the trip.
Among these were myomectomies, mastectomies, a total abdominal hysterectomy, tissue reconstruction, and biopsies.
Patients included women of all ages, including an 85 year old woman with breast cancer who was provided a mastectomy and an 11 month old baby.
One patient, an 8 year old, had been waiting for surgery for several years. The young girl had been diagnosed with a large pelvic mass in 2020 but due to COVID and other reasons, didn’t get the much-needed procedure.
The mass, a shocking 18 centimeters at that time, grew even larger over the years and greatly impacted the life of the young girl, who was only 45 pounds. By the time Operation International doctors removed it, the mass had grown to 38 centimeters, the size of a term pregnancy, and weighed 15 pounds.
“The little girl literally couldn’t do anything, she stopped going to school and was unable to help out at home. She could just sit and eat,” Dr. Alamia said. “The case took 3 hours and we were able to remove it safely without complications. It was life changing for her.”
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