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Wonders at A S B Clinic

May 7, 2008, 6:21 AM | Article By: By Augustin Kanji

The Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB) meaning in English, Workers' Samaritan Federation, has been in operation since 1888 and it is open to all. Their charism includes helping the poor and needy of society. It is evident in The Gambia that they go in to treat very serious cases that demands overseas treatment and those people cannot afford it. This week over sixty patients would be treated by experts in plastic surgery in the likes of Dr. Li, head of the medical team, Dr. Knop and Dr. Siegert. The cases they treat are the worst type of medical problems that no other doctors can possibly perform in the country. They have removed the biggest tumor and brought back to size the largest clef lips. Augustine spoke to Beatrice Weigell the ASB Hospital manager and Gudrun Lehmbech, Project Manager who spoke on their aims, achievements and plans to continue to help the poor and needy of society as seen in the very critical operations they are carrying out at present.

Beatrice reiterated that the ASB Clinic was present in Uganda, South Africa, Niger, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, and Eastern Europe when Cosovo had their problem but it is facing out there now.

EIG: What about Gambia?

Beatrice W: The project in The Gambia is development cooperation. The ASB runs the out patient since 2001. In 2005, we established the clinic opened together with the National AIDS Secretariat within their HARP (HIV/AIDS Response Project). Our project with NAS was based on the Improvement of Medical Health Care for women in The Gambia during and after Pregnancy and delivery with the focus on Sensitation for Maternal Health Care and HIV/AIDS Mother to child Transmission.

This was why they gave us some money to build the clinic, which was about $ 98, 0000, the ASP added 80, 000 Euro to complete the programme. We cure a lot of ailments but we are not HIV/AIDS hospital but we do also consider that.

EIG: Is it an expensive hospital?

Beatrice M: We admit people and it is not expensive. It is not a private clinic it is an NGO. When people pass by they do not know there is a theatre or such good machines.

EIG: Are you well located for the help you give to the needy?

Beatrice M: Yes! We reach the poor easily and that is what we stand for.

EIG: Have you any cardiological treatment?

Beatrice M: Cardiological problem is beyond us. We can do ECG and send it to Germany and that is all we can do. We do not have cardiologist.

EIG: Do you have many employees?

Beatrice M: Yes! We have 32 employed ranging from all sections in the hospital facet. We treat about 36, 0000 patients yearly. Our relationship with the Department of State for Health is cordial, infact Dr. Malick Njie; the SoS for Health will visit us today to see our doctors. We have immunization every week, malaria programme, we have close contact with the government. Some hospitals normally refer their patients here.

EIG: Can we talk about the on going treatment by your visiting doctors, what cases are they treating?

Beatrice M: They treat clef palate, burns, contractions, swelling of scars, tumor, and more and the operations are free for children. The ASB pays for everything, pays for the doctors and provide all that is needed for the operations that is why we demand for a minimal fee from the adults which cannot be compared to overseas treatment. We pay our staff for overtime and there are lots and lots of things that it entails. The highest children would pay is D50 for medicine. The consultation fee is only D5 for kids and D10 for adults. Those who come with difficult sores are charged D3 so that they will keep coming for their treatment before it goes worst.

EIG: Has ASB undertaken any other project?

Beatrice M: The ASB has undertaken one or two other projects in The Gambia. We have helped flood victims of Basse and helped refugees from Cassamance in Southern Senegal when their fighting intensified and they crossed to The Gambian side. We provided medicine to health centres so that they treat the refugees free. It was funded by together by ASB and the German Foreign Affairs.

EIG: How many very serious medical cases are undergoing the emergency treatment by your plastic surgery team?

Beatrice M: We registered about 90 patients and they are here for only a week, so they work from morning to night. I believe they will do about 60 because some of the sicknesses are really complicated and it takes time. Last year they were able to treat 30 patients, the clef palate takes too long to do. Some patients come for continuation of their operations done on them last year.

Dr. Li, the leader of their plastic surgery team, was happy to speak to me and disclosed how happy it was to be here to help other and to do things. He says, "We have lots of support form the local staff and the patients are patient. We have seen results from last year. We are happy to work for humanity." We have more patients than that of last year. We have a lot of encouragement from Beatrice Weigell and others. We concentrated on clef patients, those with clef lips and palate, burnt scars; we have 6 or 7 with baked tumors in the head and neck area. We are on this one at the moment in theatre as you can see. We had about nine patients yesterday, we worked till night and we hope we can do more to finish our programme here. "It is a pity we can't finish all as some come from far away places. But we hope to come and do more next time." Dr. Li said there were difficult operations, those with big tumors and the case we are about to do is also very difficult as all the left skin is stocked to her hand and can't move it freely. "We shall do skin grafting and help her get a better look."

The ASB hospital has been rated by many as one of the best in the country. The areas are all aptly decorated with the right equipments to help the poor, for what the ASB Clinic stands. By all standards, the hospital is a sample of a hospital that needs emulation from many quarters.

As an NGO themselves, they are asking for assistance to be able to get more people with difficulties especially those that desire overseas treatment, which they can now do at ASB at Serrekunda German. Kindly see them if you can help to facilitate their job.