Sunyani Smiles

Most efforts of the Ghana Cleft Foundation to date have consisted of providing care to patients with cleft lip and palate at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.  A significant proportion of patients travel long distances across the length and breadth of the country to get to the hospital.  Some of these patients and their families are extremely poor and cannot cope with the financial burden of providing for the treatment of the cleft.  Specialist services for cleft are currently only available in Kumasi and Accra.  Experience advised The Ghana Cleft Foundation to take the treatment of cleft closer to the communities where patients live; to develop capacity for the treatment of cleft lip and palate across the whole country; and to remove the financial barrier to accessing care.  Thus the visit to Sunyani was the very first by the Ghana Cleft Foundation with the view of making free treatment accessible to all.

Prior to the visit preliminary discussions were held with the Medical Director of the Regional Hospital at Sunyani, Dr Daniel Asare, and Dr Emmanuel Kofi Amponsah, a Maxillofacial Surgeon, about arrangements for treatment and follow-up.  Dr Amponsah was to be our liaison who would follow up the operated patients once the team returned to Kumasi. 

On the15th  of July an  advance team arrived in Sunyani. On the following day the team of experts paid a courtesy call on the Medical Director and Management Team of the Regional Hospital, Sunyani. Latter in the day they organized  a screening for patients.  Patients who were not considered fit for surgery were screened and given appointments to consult Dr. Amponsah in Sunyani for special care.

Between 17th and 20th July the team of specialists carried out operations for suitable patients. Ward rounds for review of operated patients were carried out daily.  All operations and drugs were free.  The Sunyani hospital authorities charged meager two twenty cedis (GH ¢ 20) per patient towards laboratory tests, ward accommodation and feeding.

There was close collaboration between out team and our local counterparts.  Surgeons, nurses, anesthetists, pediatricians and nutritionists worked alongside each other and shared experiences.At the end of each working day a team review meeting was held during which issues were discussed in an open and frank manner.  These meetings enabled us to harmonize our activities and appreciate the important role played by each member.  Team spirit was fostered through this interaction.

In all twenty-two (22) patients were operated by the team comprising the following cases:

Cleft lip and palate – 19

Skin grafting – 2

Keloid of earlobe – 1

There were no major complications.  Most patients were discharged home within 24 hours of surgery.  A few stayed for 48 hours.

On 19th July a get-together was organized at our hotel when we invited colleagues from the Sunyani Hospital to dine with us.  It was our way of saying thank you to them for all their help.Most of our  team members left Sunyani in the afternoon of 20th July  to return to Kumasi. On the following day which was 21st July a final ward round was made by back-up team and discharged all of our privileged and contented patients.