When you’re a sensitive teenager, your confidence can be crippled if you are embarrassed about your appearance. With her eyelids chronically swollen with fluid, 16-year old Mansah might have remained shy and withdrawn, if it weren’t for Ghana’s Watborg Eye Hospital.
“Since class one, I’ve been the subject of people talking about me because of my puffy eyes,” she said, hanging her head in shyness.
Although her parents took her to a number of clinics, no one could help Mansah until she arrived at Watborg. After Dr. Boateng (Bo) Wiafe performed blepharoplasty surgery on her right eyelid, the swelling was reduced dramatically.
Mansah exclaimed joyfully, “I am so glad I look better now. I’m ready to have my left eyelid operated on, too!”
There have been many success stories like Mansah’s at Watborg since Operation Eyesight opened the new eye hospital in April 2012. Built with generous contributions from Calgary’s philanthropic Taylor family, along with an anonymous Canadian donor and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the hospital serves patients from across Ghana. A few have even arrived from neighbouring countries, including Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Mali.
“We are making a significant contribution to our community because of where we’re located [just outside the capital city of Accra],” says Dr. Bo, a renowned ophthalmologist and Operation Eyesight’s Regional Director for Africa. He notes he hasn’t needed to advertise the hospital’s services at all. “We’re the only eye health facility within 50 kilometres.”
Open six days a week, the state-of-the-art hospital is making a considerable impact on the number of Ghanaians who require eye treatment.
“As months go by, we see our patient numbers increasing due to word of mouth. They range from poor villagers whose treatment is paid for by generous Operation Eyesight donors, to paying patients, including doctors, lawyers and other professionals. Our patients are all ages, and have all stages of eye conditions from preventative to degenerative to traumatic.”
The facility relies on referrals from district hospitals and from its two optometrists, who travel to remote villages to identify patients who require eye treatment, and refer them back to the hospital. Patients are sometimes transported by the hospital vehicles as well.
Dr. Bo reports that local stakeholders appreciate the quality of the new facility. “It’s very gratifying that the community values the services in their midst. Our patient outcomes are good, so the Ministry of Health is very happy with our work too. “
Read more about the impact of Watborg Eye Hospital in Part I and Part II of “Celebrating a new hospital in Ghana.”