Serrekunda, The Gambia
Medicos has worked at Kanifing General Hospital in Serekunda, The Gambia, since 2010.
The mission has changed since its early days, when the team provided a wide range of medical and surgical services that were otherwise unavailable in the country. Now that there are increasing numbers of local surgeons, Medicos is focusing its work on adult head and neck, and complex paediatric surgeries. We also provide support to a national thyroid clinic.
2023 Serrekunda, The Gambia Mission
Medicos en Accion returns to The Gambia
Medicos en Accion returned to The Gambia in April, three years after the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to cancel our 2020 surgical mission. Our 11-strong team, supplemented by a four-person group from B.C. Children’s Hospital (BCCH), arrived after two days of travel to find Kanifing General Hospital (formerly Serrekunda) with a new administration team, a new coat of paint and an ever-burgeoning patient population.
While some familiar faces were missing, we were pleased to reconnect with old friends and colleagues as well as to meet new ones. Sankung Jaiteh, who first worked with us in 2011, once again provided us with much appreciated support and direction.
It was gratifying to find the National Thyroid Clinic we’d helped establish in 2015 continues to provide services for patients who need diagnosis and medical management of their thyroid disease. Many thanks go to Dr. Saffie Jammeh, who has been associated with the clinic since its inception.
This year the Kanifing administration asked that Medicos focus solely on thyroid patients. While other visiting surgical teams do some thyroid surgeries, the administration told us that Medicos is the only group which perform surgeries on large goiters.
During nine surgical days, the team performed 20 surgical procedures, including 14 total thyroidectomies. As always, patients will follow up with the thyroid clinic for post-operative management and medication.
Patient follow-up has always been a key component of our work in The Gambia. During each visit physicians see not only new patients but also check in with those from previous years. Those patient visits are always special; it is rewarding, and humbling, to re-meet people whose lives have been so altered by having health care provided.
A woman who can now work alongside her husband on their farm without the discomfort of an enormous goitre; a child who is attending school and playing soccer thanks to the successful repair of an anorectal malformation; a young mother whose cancer was successfully treated by chemo drugs provided by Medicos. These are just some of the people Medicos team members have been privileged to work with over 13 years of visits to The Gambia.
At the Kanifing hospital administration’s request, our BCCH contingent joined paediatric surgeon Dr. Cherno S. Jallow at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul, for six days of complex and often challenging surgeries, laying the foundation for future collaboration.
“Small is Mighty” motto of the BCCH Foundation; “small but mighty” aptly describes our BCCH colleagues after a medical emergency forced half of the BCCH team to return to Canada shortly after arrival in The Gambia, Happily, the medical emergency was successfully resolved and we look forward to having the missing duo join us on a future trip to The Gambia. We are grateful for the valuable assistance provided during this time by Dr. Abubacarr Jah’s Sharab Hospital.
The Pelican Residence, the team’s new accommodations in The Gambia, proved to be comfortable and friendly home-base during our stay. If the walk to work was a little longer than in the past, the discovery of Ice Land, an ice cream parlor, enroute more than made up for the added distance. There are several good restaurants within walking distance, including the ever-popular Butcher Shop and Nyaala Lodge, and the hotel itself also has a small restaurant. Thanks go to Momodou Jagne and staff for ensuring our stay was pleasant.
Our stay at the Pelican was facilitated by our late friend and benefactor Pa Jobe, the former proprietor of the Banana Garden Hotel. Before he passed away, Mr. Jobe did what he always did – made sure the Medicos team was well-taken care of. He is much missed.
Next Mission: April 2024
What is an average day is like?
The average day begins with an early morning walk to the hospital. Surgeries begin around 8 am and sometimes lasting into the evening. Weeknight dinners are at restaurants close to our hotel, or perhaps at the hotel itself, so the team can relax together and socialize..