The most recent mission of IMVF to Sao Tome and Principe solved urgent cases and allowed for blindness to be cured in more severe cases. Over 600 patients were observed by a Portuguese team in one more action of the project ‘Health for All: Specialties?.

On the ground there was a team of ophthalmology technicians of the Egos Moniz Hospital and the Fernando Fonseca Hospital (Amadora-Sintra) that between the 4th and the 18th of October observed 636 patients and performed 83 surgical procedures, prioritizing the most serious cases.

Only for cataracts, the leading cause of reversible blindness worldwide, 62 patients underwent surgery, operated in Dr. Ayres de Menezes Hospital. Through the introduction of an intraocular lens they recovered full vision, avoiding blindness and a world of darkness to which they were already conformed. Seven glaucoma surgeries were done and other serious illnesses were treating during the rest of the surgical procedures. Permanent nursing care and the use of supplementary diagnostic help for the proper monitoring of these patients were also used.

During this mission, numerous communications and training activities also took place in the operating room and in the context of the consult – a major step towards improving the technical capacity of Sao Tome and Principe in the observation and evaluation of patients and training for proper use of equipment provided by the project.

These are the main objectives which were completed in just 14 days by a team of 6 – four doctors and two nurses – who travelled at the invitation of IMVF and thanks to the recognition of public interest qualified as an official mission under the order of the High Commissioner for Health.

Since 2009, technicians from Sao Tome and Principe count on the ongoing support of Portuguese teams from various medical specialties to help identify urgent cases and carry out consults and surgeries to provide on the job training. All this takes place as part of project ‘Health for All: Specialties?.

More than 12,000 visits and 850 surgical interventions of various specialties have been made in just over two years for this project – funded by the Portuguese Cooperation, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and IMVF, in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Sao Tome and Principe. This has been a way to complement in a sustainable and effective way the provision of preventive and primary care, with specialised secondary and tertiary local care.

On the ground, there was also recently a mission of otolaryngology, with five technicians of the CUF Infante Santo Hospital (24th of October to 1st of November). At the moment there is a mission of two teams on the ground  that went earlier this week: Urology from Egas Moniz Hospital; Gynaecology from IPO, and Anatomic Pathology from Fernando da Fonseca Hospital. On the 7th of November the missions will continue, this time covering the specialties of General Surgery, Paediatrics and Pulmonology.

The short-term missions have already lead to a reduction of the high cost of sanitary evacuations, both for governments and for users, also opening the way for the autonomy of expert assistance by local technicians. It is a process that has been strongly supported by a telemedicine system that allows for follow up at a greater distance and technical assistance expertise in real time and even a better management of patients, therefore being more effective from a medical point of view.

The “Health for All” was distinguished with a special mention at the Bial 2008 Awards and was more recently considered by the United Nations as an example of good practice in capacity building.


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