Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Subsidised operation gives Gitwe goitre sufferers hope

photo

Doctors operate on goitre patients in Gitwe.
TWENTY-FIVE years ago, Philomene Mukamana found her thyroid gland was growing abnormally. She was later diagnosed with goitre. 

Goitre, which refers to the abnormal enlargement of the thyroid glands in the neck, is mainly caused by iodine deficiency. 

Mukamana, 60, a resident of Rwamagana in Eastern Province, says she experienced regular headache, eye irritation and vertigo.

“I suffered a lot over the last 25 years,” the mother of three said from her hospital bed after undergoing a successful surgery.

Mukamana is one of the 36 residents of Gitwe who benefited from a special one-week thyroid surgery programme, which ended at the weekend. The operation was conducted by a team of eight specialist doctors and six nurses from the US.

“The situation was really very hard for me. Even my relatives and neighbours were concerned over my life. Now, I hope this to be the beginning of a new life for me,” Mukamana says, struggling to find her voice. “I was living with constant fear that my health situation could one day worsen and bring me other complications.” 

Godsend chance 


Many other goitre patients were financially constrained to pay for the relatively expensive operation. But the programme gave them a chance they would have never got.

Mukamana, like the other patients who subscribed to the Mutuelle de Santé insurance scheme, paid only 12,000 on an operation, which would have cost her about a million francs.

“I am thankful to the doctors and all who contributed to bringing them here, because they have offered me another chance in life,” said 34-year-old Violette Mukamuseruka.

Every year, a team of specialists from the US travels to Gitwe to offer free medical and surgical care to residents, thanks to a partnership between the hospital, the University of Stanford and the Medical Missions for Children (MMFC), an organisation that coordinates more than 13 annual medical missions to developing countries.

The partnership is beneficial to local residents, who need special treatment, Dr Emile Tuyishime, the director of Gitwe Hospital, said.

Dr Jagdish Dhingra, one of the throat surgeons from Boston, US, said on their various trips, they also share skills with local physicians.

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