Positive results in one more ophthalmological mission to Sao Tome and Principe. “We can transform big problems in small problems” said Doctor. Luis Dias Pereira, coordinator of the team, not denying the difficulties that are still present in the country.

In Ayres de Menezes Hospital, Sao Tome, between January the 24th and February the 7th a team of four doctors and two nurses joined the Project Health for All: Specialties.

Over 600 appointments and 100 surgical interventions were conducted, reaching the goal for this seventh expert mission to the country: to continue the medical assistance and surgical ophthalmology.

The placement of two doctors in the operating theatre, along with two nurses and two doctors in appointments, enabled the participation of portuguese doctors to the maximum, thus contributing to the resolution of numerous cases. The most common is cataracts, which fortunately is a reversible blindness and therefore more likely to be successfully cured.

The daily work was continuous at the Central Hospital, except for the last day of the mission: in a lecture held at the Portuguese Cultural Centre, the area of ophthalmology was presented as a case of good practice, having already achieved large savings in terms of costs: the amount spent on the territory of Sao Tome is one fifth of the estimated value for patient treatment in Portugal with the same level of quality.

The Secretary-General of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Mr. Felisberto Carvalho, noted that the Health for All Project – a project that has managed to reduce by 50% sanitary evacuation from Sao Tome and Principe – offers “an immense contribution to the health system of Sao Tome”, expressing his desire to maintain this partnership.

At the end of the mission there was still time for a Clinical Session. The Hospital’s clinical staff were asked to prepare questions that paved the way for the submission of six papers by the Portuguese team in a bid to strengthen dialogue and exchanges between experts of both countries: What are the possible causes and treatments of epiphora?; catheterisation and washing of the tears channels; cystoid macular edema; optic neuropathies; hypertensive uveitis and pupillary mydriasis.

Until December 2011, the Project “Health for All”, in all its specialties, accounted for more than 12.000 doctors’ appointments and 850 surgeries, all possible because of teamwork and because it was integrated into a broader cooperation – with IPAD and the Gulbenkian Foundation. The reward, say the Portuguese experts, is the smile of patients, “That’s more than enough to repay our work”.

As Doctor Antonio Melo, one of the doctors belonging to the group on  mission states, cooperation and sustainability is constantly strengthened, since “what is important for us is to be a piece of this puzzle that is the Cooperation and the Project Health for All, and it is shown in a sustainable manner”.

These displacements are integrated into the cooperation with Sao Tome and Principe (Recognition of Public Interest and Qualification as Official Mission under Order No. 6243/2008 – High Commissioner for Health, under the programme Health for All – Specialties, of IMVF’s responsibility).

The upcoming missions for ophthalmology are scheduled in June and October this year.

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