GIVING BACK TO COMMUNITY

100 Kilifi patients benefit from free surgery by RTM3

Doctors at medical camp use laparoscopy technology.

In Summary

• The week-long medical camp, organized by Roundtable Mombasa 3 (RTM3), has helped hundreds of patients who have been on a long waiting list at the Kilifi County Hospital.

• RTM3 founder and lead doctor Rafique Parkar said the group also seeks to sensitise, especially county governments, on the need to harness and invest in health technology.

Doctors perform a laparoscopic procedure to correct a patient's ectopic pregnancy at the Kilifi County Hospital on Wednesday
TECHNOLOGY: Doctors perform a laparoscopic procedure to correct a patient's ectopic pregnancy at the Kilifi County Hospital on Wednesday
Image: BRIAN OTIENO
Lead Rafique Parkar and Kilifi County Hospital boss Eddy Nzomo on Wednesday.
GIVING BACK: Lead Rafique Parkar and Kilifi County Hospital boss Eddy Nzomo on Wednesday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

At least 100 patients in Kilifi have undergone surgery at a free medical camp that seeks to raise awareness on neglected tropical diseases.

The weeklong medical camp, known as Week of Healing and organised by Roundtable Mombasa 3 (RTM3) — a charitable organisation, has helped hundreds of patients who have been on a long waiting list at the Kilifi County Hospital.

Neglected tropical diseases common in Kilifi and along the River Sabaki include lymphatic filariasis, hydroceles, trachoma, dengue fever, among others. The camp, based at the hospital, started on Monday and is to end on Sunday.

RTM3 founder and lead doctor Rafique Parkar said besides giving back to society, the group also seeks to sensitise, especially county governments, on the need to harness and invest in health technology.

"Technology might be expensive to acquire initially but it will eventually save costs. For example, we are using laparoscopic technology in the surgery we conduct. Once you do keyhole surgery the recovery is very fast. The patients go home the same day, so you are saving so much cost," Prof Parkar said.

The organisation is made up of youthful professionals aged between 18 and 40. They come together and pool resources to provide services to the less fortunate in society. "This is a way of giving back to society,” RTM3 vice chairperson Zaheer Charania said.

Dr Hussein Varvani, also from the organisation, said most of the cases they have worked on are general surgery, obstetrics and gynaecological surgery.

"We are using a laparoscopic tower and hysteroscopy equipment flown from Nairobi. It is part of our community service projects," Varvani said.

The group has brought in 10 doctors from Namibia, Tanzania and Nairobi to conduct the surgery. Palm wine tapper Shauri Charo Gona, 53, has been suffering from hernia for the last 10 years. The condition affected his first marriage.

His wife left him because he could no longer satisfy her. He married a second wife, who was a bit more understanding than the first.

"I tried seeking medical attention but lack of money meant I could not. Luckily, I heard of the Roundtable Mombasa 3 medical camp and ran to them for help," Gona said.

He had been scheduled to undergo an operation at the Kilifi County Hospital in March next year because of the long waiting list. Thanks to RTM3, he underwent surgery free of charge on Tuesday evening.

Apart from providing medicare to residents, the week of healing is also meant to expose local doctors to technologies used in the medical field. From Monday, surgery has been through laparoscopy technology.

By Friday, the RTM3 group had operated on 110 patients free of charge. They are managing about 20 a day on average. Parker asked counties to invest in equipment and training of doctors.

The surgery corrected ailments like hernia, hydroceles, fibroids, ovarian cysts and kidney stones, among other complications. Mwanyamawi Runya, 70, has been suffering from hernia for seven years. He was on the waiting list at the Kilifi County Hospital and was scheduled to undergo surgery in September 2020.

He had to quit farming because he could not walk properly.

"I have to sit down all the time. This made me look for something to do while sitting and I settled on weaving baskets to make a living," the elderly Runya said.

His wife left him for unrelated reasons and his life became more difficult. He had been seeking medication since August after the pain became unbearable. "I could not walk properly. It affected even my waist."

Runya said he could not go to many social places. "I was isolated. I just stayed at home."

Prof Parkar and Charania said the RTM3 has been organising such medical camps at least once a year in Kilifi and many other parts of the Coast region.

Kilifi Health executive Anisa Omar said a partnership with such an organisation has helped the county to alleviate health problems. "It cuts our costs because it helps the county administer healthcare to more residents at a cheaper cost."

She said laparoscopy operations are expensive and finding a partner who can help do it for free is welcome.

(Edited by F'Orieny)