As is the case with such countries, availability of medical care is dismally low, the problem of avoidable blindness being one. For a population of 21 lakhs there is only one resident eye specialist. That’s like having 5 doctors for the entire city of Bangalore to put things into perspective.
For this reason, a team of Indian ophthalmologists, on the invitation by the Government of Gambia, led by Dr. KV Ravi Shankar, managing trustee of Usha Kiran Charitable Trust travelled to the Gambia thrice before, their mission being both to assist in treatment and to educate medical personnel, to reduce the prevalence of avoidable blindness for the future
Dr K V Ravishankar MD, FRCS(Edin)UK - Eye surgeon (Indian passport # Z 5160064 ) , From Mysore , India
Dr Surendra Basti ,MD, Diplomate of American Board - Eye Surgeon ( USA Passport # P 573092265), From Chicago, USA
Dr Milind Bhide,MS, FRCS(edin)UK - Eye Surgeon( Indian Passport # Z 2456435 ), From Hyderabad
Dr Vasanth Kumar –MD, Prof of Anaesthesia ( Indian Passport # P0449886), From Mysore, India
Rotary General Volunteer
Dr M V Ravikumar BE,ME,Phd - Rotary Volunteeer ( Indian Passport # Z 3114090 ) , From Bangalore, India
Every member of the team was highly experienced and an expert in their field, and one aspect of their mission was to transfer some of this experience and knowledge to medical professionals in the Gambia. The team operated at Sheik Zayed Regional Eye Care Center in the city of Kanifing, near Banjul, the capital of the Gambia. The facility is the only one of its kind in Gambia, and is the only place where Gambians in need of surgical correction for impaired vision can go.
This team has been to Gambia twice in the past and a third request has come in. Other than treating patients, the other goal of this mission was to convey some of the knowledge of the members of the Indian team to the staff at Sheik Zayed. Often, this took the form of suggestions for new, more efficient procedures inside and outside the operating theater.
Combat Blindness International helped initiate and plan the entire previous trips, and provided major support as well as surgical consumables.
Rotary clubs from India, Portugal, the UK, the US, and the Gambia all provided assistance and logistical support.
The Gambian Ministry of Health sponsored this program
and were obviously integral to its success.
Leaders of the Indian community in the Gambia also worked to help in any way they could.
And of course, without the staff at Sheik Zayed, none of this would have been possible. The journey exemplifies both the challenges and the solutions in the fight against blindness in impoverished populations. Together, everyone was able to make a great change for the better, not just in the present, but for the future.
This time around the team is bigger and the mission higher. The plans to conduct a minimum of 100 surgeries over 10 days.
The funds raised is just to cover the cost of material and equipment, the rest is all pro bono.
This is THE GAMBIA PROJECT.