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Medical Mission helps patients walk

Dr. Bruce Lehnert, Jenny Lehnert, Dr. Meir Nyska and Dr. Tufikila Nakale screening an elderly patient who suffers from club foot deformity at Katutura State Hospital on Wednesday 13 June 2012. (Photograph by Hilma Hashange).

Dr. Bruce Lehnert, Jenny Lehnert, Dr. Meir Nyska and Dr. Tufikila Nakale screening an elderly patient who suffers from club foot deformity at Katutura State Hospital on Wednesday 13 June 2012. (Photograph by Hilma Hashange).

Many disabled but not incapacitated patients suffering from lower leg deformities, can be assisted to lead a normal life thanks to an initiative by the United Africa Group (UAG) in association with Oxygen Communications. Called the Medical Mission, this relief effort brings doctors and patients together for life-altering treatment.
Medical Mission is aimed at correcting physical lower-extremity deformities to improve quality of life for needy patients with deformed legs and feet. One of the projects in the Medical Mission is the International Extremity Project (IEP), which was launched for the first time in Namibia by Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Hon. Petrina Haingura, this week Tuesday.
The IEP is a non-profit organisation and is run on a volunteer basis by a small group of doctors and nurses of American and Israel origin. The group, consisisting of three volunteer doctors and one nurse, paid a visit to Katutura State Hospital to perfom surgery on patients with lower limb deformities. This is the first time the IEP is coming to Africa and United Africa brought the project to Namibia at a cost of about N$480,000.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services assists the project by making available its facilities at the state hospitals and by seconding nurses. The project will proceed to Vietnam in 2013. After the operations, the team will spend time with medical students at the University of Namibia, were they will provide medical seminars to the students before leving the country on 22 June 2012.
Speaking at the launch, the Deputy Minister applauded Oxygen Communications and United Africa for sponsoring the mission and coordinating the various processes between the project and the Minsistry of Health. Haingura said that although the government spent a considerable amount of money on health, a significant backlog still exists in providing specialised care for some of the vulnerable people, especially those with deformities caused by diseases such as Polio.
Founded in 1998 as Mission Peace, the project later changed to International Extremity Project when its founding member passed away. Dr Ludwig Walters, a local orthopaedic surgeon who has been in the industry for 32 years, has arranged the screening, consultation and surgery times for the visiting doctors.
The IEP group to Namibia consists of Dr Bruce Lehnert, an American specialisist in foot and ankle reconstruction, his wife Jenni Lehnert, a nurse and the two doctors from Israel, Dr. Meir Nyska, an orthopaedic surgeon and Dr. Beny Kish. Together, the volunteer doctors will perform surgeries and provide much needed modern medical equipment as well as provide training in advanced treatment to Namibian doctors.
About 40 patients were screened on Wednesday at Katutura State Hospital, of which 20 to 30 with lower limb deformities went under the knife on Thursday and Friday. “Our team will definately come back to Namibia to do follow-ups on the patients we have been operated on. We are considering sending some Namibian medical students to go and study in Israel,” Dr Bruce Lehnert informed the Economist.

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