Medics on mercy mission to Africa

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Tony Da Silva at Spire Yale Hospital - Medics on mercy mission to Africa 2015
Tony Da Silva at Spire Yale Hospital - Medics on mercy mission to Africa 2015

A top surgeon is leading a specialist medical team on a mercy mission to Africa to bring expert care to one of the world’s poorest countries.

Tony Da Silva at Spire Yale Hospital - Medics on mercy mission to Africa
Tony Da Silva at Spire Yale Hospital – Medics on mercy mission to Africa

Tony Da Silva, a consultant general and vascular surgeon at the Spire Yale Hospital, in Wrexham, and his fellow medics will be jetting out to Ethiopia at the end of the month.

In that time they will see hundreds of people from one of the most deprived and remote areas of the country.

It is the sixth time that Mr Da Silva, 58, has been out to the country which has been ravaged by civil war and famine in the last 30 years.

He has hand-picked a team to treat the kinds of ailments and injuries – including monkey bites – as well as delivering lectures on good health care practices to local doctors.

The team will be working in a hospital in the southern Ethiopian town of Hawassa, which lies some 170 miles from the capital Addis Ababa.

Mr Da Silva said: “The medical issues they face are often complex and very different to what we would normally see at home in North Wales. For instance, injuries from monkey bites are really common.

“There are countless monkeys that live side by side with farmers and families in what is a rally basic rural area. Conflict is inevitable and the result can be difficult to treat bites.

“But there are many other issues such as malaria, HIV and TB is common. And all health care has to be paid for which means the poorest people simply don’t get the medical care they need.

“This means injuries that aren’t treated properly can become debilitating as time goes by. Many people live a very rural life alongside their livestock and with cooking on open fires still common, there are quite a few serious burn injuries that require treating. Sadly it is often children that get burnt.

“The road system is rudimentary really and there are numerous accidents as roads are unlit and vehicles are often poorly maintained.

“Although we will be involved in some clinical work a significant part of our work will be to teach, therefore we already have a program of lectures, requested by the Ethiopian doctors, which will be delivered during our stay in Hawassa.”

Mr Da Silva and his fellow surgeons, Dr Aloysius Mbako, an orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Nicola Tanner, a general surgeon and Dr Nick Nelhans, a senior paediatrician, all of Wrexham Maelor Hospital, will be taking as much medical equipment as they can carry in their baggage allowance.

Other members of the team will include Gill Royce, a senior orthopaedic sister at Wrexham Maelor Hospital and Liz Bailey, a senior paediatric ITU sister at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool.

He added: “It’s a very different environment than what we are used to in North Wales. There are for example no CT scans or compressed gases for anaesthetic use, all of which makes effective treatments much more difficult.

“We are taking orthopaedic equipment, such as plaster of Paris and skin traction kits to treat fractures, anaesthetic equipment to help to intubate patients during anaesthesia and basic instruments for use in theatre.

“We will also be taking specialised equipment for the treatment of vascular disease and some medical textbooks and teaching DVD’s for a basic skills course. But we are limited to what we can carry.

“I always enjoy going to Ethiopia and being able to pass on some important skills. It certainly makes you realise how lucky we are to have the health care we enjoy in the UK.”

Sue Jones, the Director of Spire Yale Hospital, said: “The voluntary work that Tony and his team do is really inspirational and important.

“The expertise he has acquired in the course of the last few years means he knows what the people in Ethiopia need and because of his experience and contacts within the medical profession he can put together a team that can deliver.

“They are simply heroes and every year they go out there to save lives and help people.”