• January 26th, 2020

American Coptic doctors hold health outreach

WINDHOEK - The Coptic Medical Association of North America (CMANA) last week held a week-long health outreach programme, performing surgeries and attending to patients with various ailments. 

Professor Hani Ashamalla, the Chairman and Clinical Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology New York Presbyterian-Brooklyn Methodist Hospital told New Era on Saturday that each February, CMANA has its third largest mission in Namibia. 

“We are a group of doctors and health allied professionals who are all of Christian faith. We live in the United States of America and we go to many missions and Namibia is one of the countries that we cover. There are small missions that come throughout the year, those are maybe one surgeon but usually every February there is a very large mission which consists of many surgeons and many pharmacists,” said Ashamalla. 

CMANA works together with the Coptic Church located here in Windhoek, said Ashamalla. 
“We perform many surgeries and we have seen thousands of students (learners) in the outreach schools. We covered five large high schools working under the Ministry of Basic Education, Arts and Culture and we also had surgeons working in both Katutura and Windhoek Central hospitals,” Ashamalla said of the work of the missionary doctors. Some of the team members consisting of nearly 30 health professionals also gave several lectures at the University of Namibia School on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  

“We also have a psychologist in the group who gave lectures to students about addiction, substance abuse, sexual abuse, suicide, and self-esteem,” said the professor. 

Ashamalla is an oncologist, and as such he attended to cancer patients.  
The team also consisted of a general surgeon, an ear, nose and throat surgeon, two anesthesia doctors, two interventional pain doctors who performed injections in the spine and the joints for joint pain, an oral surgeon and dentist who performed a lot of surgeries and outreach programmes beyond the Katutura and Windhoek Central hospitals where they were attached. 

“We had a lot of dental screenings and dental hygiene for the learners both in Windhoek and small towns outside Windhoek, including Rehoboth. We went to an addict rehabilitation programme centre 20 kilometres outside Windhoek (Etegameno),” the doctor shared on the work they performed during the week. 

He further stated: “All our work is of Christian faith. We do not just go out there but we provide Christ to all and we preach that we are offering all of this out of our Christian values and our Christian love. That doesn’t mean we have any differentiation in colour, gender or religion but this is who we are and that’s what unites us,” Ashamalla said. 
In fact, one of the first activities the medical team had when they arrived in the country was an outreach programme in the Coptic Church where people with various ailments were brought in from various parts of the country, Ashamalla explained.  
“We have our own pharmacy, we bring our own medication with us so everybody gets free medication and now we are donating to the Ministry of Health and Social Services close to US$200 000 (N$ 2.8 million) worth of medication and we also gave the Minister (of Health and Social Services) two operating room monitors to check the heart and blood pressure of patients during surgeory,” said Ashamalla. 

Speaking on the challenges encountered during the mission, Ashamalla said that in some areas’ learners were found to be very malnourished “and a lot of them infect each other because they don’t clean their hands and keep infecting themselves.”

He further said: “We would like to see more psychologists in the schools because a lot of the children wanted to meet our psychologist and we had only one so we couldn’t maybe make a big difference because we didn’t have the time or the personnel and we advised the principals to hire more social workers because a lot of the learners were either abused or are depressed so they would have benefited if there were more than one psychologist (on the team).”
CMANA also has missions in Kenya, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Zambia and they will soon be going to Uganda, said Ashamalla. 

Alvine Kapitako
2019-03-05 10:02:34 | 10 months ago

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