Zimbabwe medical mission does 500 surgeries

PRIP-Rajendra-Saboo-assisting-a-patient

In a personal message to PRIP Rajendra Saboo, RI President Mark Maloney said, “You and Team India can take great pride in the accomplishments at Mutare. More than 3,000 patients seen, more than 1,400 procedures completed, and over 500 major surgeries undertaken — these are remarkable statistics marking a notable achievement. You have made a lifelong impact on so many people of Manicaland. Those you have served will remember you forever.”

Accompanied by Gay, he participated for three days in a 10-day VTT medical mission to Zimbabwe in February organised by Rotary India. A 20-member multi-specialty surgical team included RI Director Dr Bharat Pandya who took part as a general surgeon. “The visit of President Maloney and Gay was the icing on the cake. They wheeled in the patients to the operation theatre and shifted out those who had their surgeries done to the wards with consoling, soothing words,” said PDG Madhukar ­Malhotra, the Project Chair.

Hundreds of needy patients got free surgeries which would have cost huge money and could not have been possible in Zimbabwe even on payment.

The VTT team including Rotarian volunteers was led by PRIP Saboo as their mentor. He was accompanied by wife Usha Saboo. The mission team reached Mutare, the capital of Manicaland Province in Zimbabwe, on Feb 26. The project’s primary contact Rtn Rosette ‘Rose’ Peters, President-elect of RC Chitangwiza, RID 9210, the host district, welcomed them at the airport. Zimbabwe’s Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro helped to expedite clearance of the medical equipment and supplies from the Customs.

Earlier in Nov 2019, Malhotra and Dr Karan Singh, past president of RCRoorkee Midtown, visited Mutare to make a preliminary study on the facilities and medical needs at the identified hospital. He also did the groundwork for the duty-free import of medical equipment and supplies, hassle-free import of drugs and medicines by liaising with the Drug Controller’s Office.

RI President Mark Maloney wheeling a child patient. His wife Gay and PRIP Saboo are seen behind him.
RI President Mark Maloney wheeling a child patient. His wife Gay and PRIP Saboo are seen behind him.

There were two operating tables at the main OT at the Provincial ­Hospital used for general surgery, besides one additional table which was used for ENT and plastic surgery requiring only local anaesthesia. The gyneac team used the Saint Joseph’s ­Mission Hospital. The General ­Surgery team led by Dr Kuldeep Dhawan and Dr Manoj Sharma performed 69 ­surgeries, some of them being ‘firsts’ in the history of this hospital.

PDG Dr G K Thakral and his wife Dr Rashmi Thakral, both dental surgeons and veterans of 10 medical VTT missions, completed 1,229 ­procedures. “The equipment and accessories carried by the team were used to make a defunct dental chair operational and perform many more procedures than would have been possible with only one dental chair,” explained Malhotra.

RID Bharat Pandya with PDG Dr G K Thakral who is performing a dental procedure.
RID Bharat Pandya with PDG Dr G K Thakral who is performing a dental procedure.

In skin care, Dr Vinay Shankar, dermatologist, examined over 500 patients and gave free medicines to them. Dr Donald from the Indian Army provided cryogenic therapy for 50 patients with skin infections.

Other doctors in the surgery team include Dr Jagdeep Thakur (ENT); Dr V D Singh (plastic); Dr Ravjit Singh, Tarang Khainar (orthopaedic); Dr Sushil Saini, Dr Nivedita; and Dr Pankaj Shah (ophthalmic); and Dr Manisha Damani and Dr N S Sandhu (gynaecology). They were supported by anaesthesiologists Dr Vikas Tyagi, Dr Gian Chand, Dr Dara Singh, and Dr Surinder Singh.

 

Local doctors gain expertise

The host doctors at the Mutare Provincial Hospital worked along with Indian surgeons who completed 506 surgeries and 1,334 procedures during the mission. Training sessions on new techniques and developments in surgeries for the host doctors were organised.

The VTT team.
The VTT team.

RI Vice-President Olayinka Babalola from Nigeria called on ­Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare which was covered by the national media. As a result a large number of patients turned up the next day at the Mutare Hospital; but due to shortage of facilities, medical supplies and paucity of time, over 1,500 needy people were not able to access the services of the VTT team at the provincial hospital.

President Maloney and Gay, along with RI Vice-President Babalola stayed at a modest hotel as the VTT team and joined the review meeting in the evenings, and shared a modest, working lunch at the hospital. “I look forward to joining future medical VTT missions once my tenure as RI Director ends,” said Dr Bharat Pandya, who performed some difficult surgeries. The team carried 1,600 kg of medical equipment, instruments and supplies.

District Governor Jitendra ­Dhingra and his wife Ritu played an exemplary role as volunteers, taking full responsibility for hospitality including lunch and snacks for the doctors, caring for all their needs.  DG Dhingra used his culinary art in preparing some Indian dishes for dinners in the hotel kitchen, and Ritu was conducting early morning yoga sessions. There was no small or big work for them.  PRIP Saboo said, “I am  proud of the couple who are truly bonding factor in our team”.

Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba, Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, thanked Saboo as he offered to fully equip the Sakuba Eye Hospital, which lacked facilities, if the local authorities in Mutare could build a new building to meet growing requirements.

From L: Dr Kuldeep Dhawan, Dr N S Sandhu, RID Dr Bharat Pandya, Dr B D Singh and Dr Karan Singh.
From L: Dr Kuldeep Dhawan, Dr N S Sandhu, RID Dr Bharat Pandya, Dr B D Singh and Dr Karan Singh.

PRIP Saboo also promised that his club, RC Chandigarh, will sponsor the congenital heart surgeries in India for 10 children from ­Zimbabwe as a token gesture which was met with much enthusiasm. The minister thanked the VTT medical mission from India as “hundreds of needy patients got free surgeries which would have cost huge money and could not have been possible in ­Zimbabwe even on payment.”

PRIP Saboo is organising VTT medical missions to Africa since 1998. The first team went to Uganda and since then one or two teams have been going to Africa every year. Keeping a promise he had made to late RIPE Sam Owori, PRIP Raja Saboo has aimed to send a VTT medical mission to every Rotary district in Africa. “After Sam died, (the then) President Barry Rassin said to me, ‘Raja, let us see if we can fulfil the dream that Sam had.’ So now we are planning on that,” he added.

3 comments on “Zimbabwe medical mission does 500 surgeries

  • May 18 2020 at 4:11 pm
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    Medical mission to Zimbabwe has indeed done yeomen service to the people of Zimbabwe. Over 500 surgeries is fantastic achievement. Hats off to PRIP Rajendra Saboo who led the medical team which has stitched a bond that is going to be remembered forever.

    • Rotary Club : Rotary Club of Nasik
    Reply
    • Oct 15 2020 at 7:42 pm
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      I’m most grateful for your services as my son was one of your patients. My family and I had done all we could to get funds for our son to see an orthopaedic, but we failed miserably. Then you came along… a miracle. I just can’t thank you enough, maybe the next time you visit Zimbabwe again on such a mission I could volunteer my services so that other hopeless people like I was can feel their sorrows lifted.

        Reply
    • Jun 30 2020 at 3:34 pm
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      It was a highly satisfying experience to plan and execute the medical VTT mission to Zimbabwe in March 2020.

      • Rotary Club : Chandigarh
      Reply

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