Eleos Cares

Health Missions in West Africa

Project Background

Since 2006, this medical team has been traveling to Ghana and Liberia with a single purpose in mind. Subsistence workers in villages (farmers, masons, hunters, herders, and day laborers in remote villages) are unable to recover for prolonged periods of time after surgery. Those recovering from surgery may be forced to make the choice between working to feed their families or resting without income to allow healing. These medical humanitarian trips are special because they serve a defined purpose as opposed to “just going there” and doing as many surgeries as possible which have been found to increase reliance on foreign assistance without long-term benefit. Education remains long after the educators leave and those taught to become teachers of more teachers in the region.

Project Benefits

Our efforts are three-fold: The first is treating the most common surgical disease in Africa, namely hernia repair, using mesh. Hernias are abdominal wall defects that can be very debilitating and sometimes life-threatening. Mesh repair techniques carry <1% recurrence compared to 40% with traditional surgery. It also helps people return to work just a few days after surgery compared to 6 weeks.The second goal is to make the surgical incision very small by teaching laparoscopic surgery compared to the much larger abdominal incisions that require greater recovery and involve greater pain. Laparoscopic surgery is an advanced surgical technique that requires special equipment and much practice to master.The third technique is to manage pain after surgery without narcotics. This year we introduced ultrasound-guided nerve blocks to eliminate post-surgical pain and minimize narcotics and their side effects. Using ultrasound to identify nerves requires solid knowledge of anatomy and the coordination needed to direct a needle by ultrasound visualization to safely inject numbing medicine. In addition to this, we also introduced epidural anesthesia and hope to expand on this introduction to help women in labor.

Eleos' Contribution

Eleos is the primary financial sponsor for travel and equipment. The 2022 14-day trip, donations exceeding $200,000 retail value were presented, including an ultrasound machine, anesthesia, and surgical equipment, and mesh.

Next Phase

Health missions will continue.
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