The Gambia is the smallest of nations in the continental mainland of Africa, with a population of just over two million. The Gambia, which had become part of the British Empire in 1765, got its independence exactly two hundred years later, in 1965. Being a small country with low GDP, healthcare in general and eye-care in particular is one of the major issues. There are only three practising Ophthalmologists in the entire country.
Dr. Ravishankar, a senior vitreous-retina surgeon of Usha Kiran Eye Hospital, Mysuru has been a passionate eye-care volunteer and has provided his services in several African countries and in Bangladesh during the last twenty years. Having specialized in paediatric eye surgeries, his focus has been to help poor children gain their sight so that they can lead a normal and fulfilling life. On the invitation of Ministry of Health services, Government of the Gambia, Dr. Ravishankar had visited the Gambia a couple of times during 2008 and 2013 as a volunteer and performed nearly thirty eye surgeries each time, mostly for children at the Shiek Zayed Regional Eye Care Centre.
With increasing need for children eye surgeries, Dr. Ravishankar led a team of two Ophthalmologists, an Anaesthetist and a Rotary volunteer recently during 6 to 12 April 2019 to the Gambia on a Surgical Mission. During the short stay of five days, the team operated nearly thirty-six patients, out of which twenty-nine were children. Most of the children were operated for matured cataract, traumatic cataract, and squint. The age-group varied from as young as seven months to ten years. Each surgery takes over one and half hours as it is done under general anaesthesia.
The Mission was supported by Combat Blindness International, an NGO based in the US; Rotary clubs from Bengaluru, Mysuru, Banjul, and one from Portugal; and the Indian business community led by Hon. Consul-General of India in the Gambia, Mr. Ram Mohan. In the words of Mr. Ram Mohan, the Indian medical team brought brightness not only to the young patients but also to their families and to the people of the Gambia, more particularly to the Indian community. Light has little use if one does not have the ability to see it.
City Today News