Following completion of the Hernia Treatment Centre in Takoradi, the Team undertook a second mission in 2006.
At the official reception in Accra in 2005, the British High Commissioner suggested that an application be made to the Overseas Small Grants Scheme for ongoing work on the Hernia Project. As a result £10,000 was granted as pump-priming financial aid to build a Hernia Treatment Centre in Takoradi, based at the regional hospital. This represents a first in the management of neglected hernias which have such a large health and financial impact on the lives of young Africans. For many years philanthropic nurses and surgeons have given their time and skills in third world countries to support the treatment of obstetric fistula (with the involvement of the American & UK Colleges of Obstetrics & Gynaecology), cataract (Eye Camps run by NGOs and charities with volunteer ophthalmolgists) and maxillofacial conditions (The Smile Train). Hernia, the second commonest condition in Africa requiring surgical correction, has thus far been ignored.
In December 2005 a survey was carried out at Takoradi hospital by Mr Brian Dixon (an employee of the Canadian oil company, CNR International). He identified that a Hernia Treatment Centre could be achieved by refurbishment of 3 rooms on the first floor of the hospital. A variety of logistical problems were identified: including lift access, water supply and back-up electrical supply.
The hospital is located on elevated land and there is generally a breeze; this supplemented by roof fans are adequate to provide air circulation to the ward and reception area, but a split air conditioning unit was required for the Theatre and Preparation Area. -Split Units are significantly quieter and are to be preferred to the window AC units which they are now replacing.
The refurbishment was cheaply achieved and limited to existing fittings rather than replacement. Two ward areas, an operating theatre, preparation area, recovery area and rest area were achieved.
No monies were available for Surgical Equipment such as theatre lighting, an operating table and anaesthetic equipment. Future fund-raising or the re-cycling of aged, but not defunct items of equipment from Plymouth would provide these items in the future. Operation Hernia 2006 borrowed a theatre light, an operating table and anaesthetic equipment for the main theatres in the hospital.
Due to the unstinting site-management work of Mr Brian Dixon all this work was completed in Takoradi hospital by September 2006, in readiness for the 12-strong team of nurses and doctors from Plymouth and the European Hernia Society, to undertaken Operation Hernia in October. Approximately 40 of the operations were undertaken in this new facility and another 100 in other hospitals in Takoradi.
Support for the 2006 mission was received as follows: British High Commission: £10,000, the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit at Derriford: 4 nursing Personnel, British Medical Association/Royal College of Nursing: £3000 Scholarship to the Plymouth Hernia Nurse Specialist Chrissie Porter, European Hernia Society/British Hernia Society: £1000 each, Association of Surgeons of Great Britain & Ireland Travel Scholarship for a surgical registrar: £1000, and 3 companies from the hernia industry (Tissue Science, Atrium and Bard) each donated £3000. Tyco Healthcare supplied 3 diathermy machines, diathermy pads and a large quantity of surgical materials, which was supplemented by Atrium Medical. Throughout the ten day mission, Mr Brian Dixon continued to provide logistic support on behalf of CNR International. Cash-flow was greatly assisted by the Sekondi-Takoradi Rotary Club. Dr Boateng-Duah (Medical Director of Takoradi hospital) arranged screening of all the hernia patients prior to surgery and also provided local liaison, surgical expertise and indefatigable social and moral support. Transportation and a driver in a comfortable air-conditioned coach was laid on by the Shama Ahanta East Metropolitan Assembly (Takoradi town council).
Andrew Kingsnorth (Director, Fund-raiser and Recruitment Officer) and Chris Oppong (Project Coordinator) will continue to manage the project. Three missions are already planned for 2007: a group of Italian surgeons lead by Professor Giampiero Campanelli will visit in January, in June Paddy O’Dwyer will take a team from Scotland and in September Christos Dervenis will lead a group of Greek surgeons. The British Hernia Society/Plymouth group will once again visit in November. Other National chapters of the European Hernia Society will be invited to fill the 2008 calendar.