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Team of surgeons in town for consultation, ahead of free surgeries

Nov 7, 2013, 10:43 AM | Article By: Cherno Omar Bobb

Friends of Mercy Ships, a Global Christian Organisation with its international centre based in Texas, USA, has currently four members of its surgeons in the country to offer free consultation to Gambians for two weeks.

They are due back in the country in March 2014 with a team of over 30 surgeons to offer free surgery to people with cleft and palate for six weeks.

Dr Tony Giles, Maxillofacial Surgeon; Ann Giles, Nurse; Dr Bjorn Pettersen, Physician, and Anne-Marie Pettersen, Care Assistant, will spend two weeks in the country finding people with cleft lip and palate with screening of patients.

The team is expected to spend a week in Banjul, before touring the rest of the country for another week before their departure.

Dr Tony Giles said they will be going round the country to find people with cleft lip and palate because in most cases the parents of these patients hide them, adding that Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) has already found them 34 patients with cleft lip and palate in the country but they hope there is twice or more this number in the country.

He said that during their 6 weeks in the country to offer free cleft lip and palate surgery, they will also be training doctors at the EFSTH on how to carry on with the surgery, and hope that by the time they return home the doctors at EFSTH can do it.

If they train them on this, the doctors at EFSTH will know how to care for patients with cleft lip and palate, he added, saying they cannot teach them all they know but would teach them on cleft lip and palate surgery within the six weeks.

He stated that they have worked in over 10 African countries over the years, and have also received requests to work in 17 West African countries.

Dr Giles said that they have previously worked in The Gambia but this would be their biggest team, saying each time they are in the country they try to do more.

They treated over 60 people with cleft lips and palates in the country the last time they came, he stated further, saying they are ready to treat anyone who come to them with the problem.

The organisation, founded by Don and Deyon Stephens, an American couple, about 35 years ago, is in The Gambia, and any other country they go to, “to show the love of God in the name of Jesus”, Dr Giles remarked.

They will be working together with the Health Care Centre of the country during their stay, he said, adding: “The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has been helpful.”

“We are looking forward to serving the people of The Gambia,” he also said, adding: “We can make this better and cure it.”

“Special thanks to the Government of The Gambia and everyone supporting us to see that we do our work more successfully,” the maxillofacial surgeon said.

The authorities have taken them very seriously, which is very important to them, he also said.

Meanwhile, the team of surgeons will be at the following health centres on the following dates: Wednesday and Thursday, 6 and 7 November, at the Poly Clinic; 11 November at Essau and Ndungu Kebbeh Health Centres; 12 November at Farafenni Hospital and Jakaba Health Centre; 13 November at Bansang Hospital; 13 and 14 November at Basse Health Care; 14 November at Yorobabawol and Diabugu Health Centres, 15 and 16 November at Soma Health Centre, and 16 November at Bwiam Hospital.