US-UK Team in Bopolu, Liberia

Team: Arun Baskara (Leader), Paul Skaife and Michael Wong (trainee)

Dates; November 12-20 2022

The mission to Bopolu in the Republic of Liberia was carried out through Hernia International, the UK’s premier hernia charity which was initiated by Professor Andrew Kingsnorth. The surgical team for Nov 2022 comprised of Mr Paul Skaife, General Surgeon from the UK, Mr Michael Wong, senior trainee Surgeon from the UK and myself. Dr George Peter, who is the Medical Director at Jallahline Government Hospital, Gbarpolu, guided us through the mission. The mission was carried out from November 14 2022 to November 18 2022.

We flew in to Monrovia on different days and Dr Peter was kind enough to pick us up from the airport personally and drove us from Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, to Bopolu in his pick- up truck. Though the distance from Monrovia to Bopolu was only 70 miles, it took nearly 5 hours for us to reach Bopolu. It was quite an experience for it was more an off-roading than driving on a road.

Bopolu is a beautiful small town with limited basic amenities for ones’ living. Generators were used for power and there was no running tap water. Life seemed to be simple and calm in the small town. People looked happy and contented.

During our mission, we did 51 surgeries which included inguinal, umbilical, ventral hernia repairs, keloid excisions, excision of benign skin lesions. The patients were from all age groups. Mr Skaife operated on pediatric and adult patients whereas Mr Wong and I took care of adult patients. We performed all the procedures either under local or spinal anesthesia.

Dr Peter arranged his staffs to assist us in the Operating Room. The staffs were kind, cheerful and curious. As we expected, the resources were limited in the Operating Room. We managed to give our best care to the patients with the available limited resources. Mr Wong was kind enough to bring 2B pencils to donate to the local primary school. He was an instant hit with the school and the students.

Bopolu trip was eye opening. The trip was challenging but, it gave us a humbling and rewarding experience. Our team is thankful to Professor Kingsnorth and Dr George Peter, his staffs and everyone involved for giving us an opportunity to serve the people at Bopolu.

Michael Wong received a Travel Award from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. To view his report go to the following link