In Uganda, a single, local hospital with only four physicians services a population of almost 500,000. However, during the Operation International's latest medical mission a team of OI physicians, nurses, clinicians and many other volunteers attended to over 350 impoverished adults and children, delivered $600,000 worth of medical supplies and visited three orphanages.
Operation International is based in Southampton. (Courtesy Photo)
"Our medical mission to Uganda was very fulfilling for our entire team," said Medhat Allam, MD, Operation International's Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors. "As part of our mission to save as many lives as possible in impoverished countries where people are faced with the lack of quality health services, we performed 72 major complex surgical procedures during 16-hour days on congenital anomalies, severe burn reconstructions, benign and malignant tumors."
During the mission to Rakai, Uganda, the team brought equipment and set up three modern, fully function operating rooms and constructed a five-bed recovery room, three-bed ICU; delivered patient transportation stretchers, wheelchairs, hundreds of blankets, linens and gowns; disposable medical supplies for 500 operations; hundreds of clothing items and shoes; educational materials and 2,500 mosquito nets.
Other highlights included being greeted at the airport by Uganda's Minister of Public Services, meeting the Queen - who gave flowers to team members in appreciation of their work, and a visit with the King of Kooki who paid tribute to our team on his birthday.
"We examined patients on the grass, since there was not enough space at the hospital, and we taught orphans to sing. For us, the best medicine is celebrating the joy of life," Dr. Allam noted.
The team also helped bring a life into the world during a harrowing situation. "A woman in labor was facing a near-death situation. She could not deliver her child, and its heartbeat had stopped. Our team performed a C-section to save the mother, and then performed CPR to bring her baby girl back to life. It was a heartwarming moment witnessing the look on the mother's face as she heard her child cry for the first time after entering the world," added Dr. Allam.
Formerly known as International Surgical Mission Support (ISMS), the secular, non-political, Southampton-based humanitarian organization was founded in 1996 by Medhat Allam, MD; Ravi Kothuru, MD; and Robert Mineo, CRNA. The nonprofit aspires to offer medical aid to adults and children in impoverished countries that suffer from a lack of quality healthcare. They have provided care in over 23 countries. Operation International also offers on-site education and training to local health care workers during each of its missions.
Since the team's first mission to Haiti in 1997, where a firsthand account of the devastating effects of poverty and inadequate medical care, the team has expanded to include over 200 medical professionals through individual chapters across the US.
The organization has also since developed alliances with the United Nations, Rotary International, Agnes Varis Trust, Americares, AFYA Foundation, Soles 4 Souls, and Hospitals Sisters Mission Outreach. In partnership with Dooley Intermed, the organization is building the first eye hospital in the Himalayan area of Bhakunde Besi in Nepal.
For more information, www.operationinternational.org.