Outreach in Ghana Brings Care to Pediatric Patients
In this patient story, we meet Odelia, a ten-month-old Ghanaian girl born with congenital cataracts. Thanks to HCP Cureblindness’ recent outreach, Odelia is one of two dozen children whose vision was restored with a free corneal surgery.
Ten-month-old Odelia sits calmly in her mother’s lap while the HCP surgeon examines her. Born premature, Odelia is small for her age and is slow to meet development milestones. The two have traveled a great distance to the Tamale Teaching Hospital in the Upper East Region of Ghana to receive care for Odelia’s congenital cataracts.
“Coming here for the procedure has not been easy on my mind. I had doubts and fearsabout the surgery, but I knew this would be an important moment in my daughter's life.
Removing the cataracts will guarantee my baby's vision, else she may go blind,” says Madam Charity Agana, Odelia’s 36-year-old mother.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Report on Vision, young children with early onset severe vision impairment can experience delayed motor, language, emotional, social, and cognitive development, with lifelong consequences. Other studies show that children who can see learn twice as much as their blind classmates.
As a kindergarten teacher, Agana knows more than most how sight affects a child’s ability to learn. “As a school teacher, I believe that the eyes are the light of the body and without sight, it makes learning difficult even in special schools. We observe the children in class to ensure they are not struggling with their sight. Our problem is that when we discover these issues and inform their parents, they cannot seek medical assistance for their children due to financial difficulties.”
Cost was a concern for Agana as well. Even though she knew this surgery was essential to her daughter’s success in life, she didn’t know where she would find the money. That’s why she was so relieved to learn that patients attending this HCP Cureblindness outreach would receive their treatment free of charge. Suddenly, the impossible became a reality and Agana could dare to envision a fulfilling life for her daughter.
Odelia wasn’t alone: at this particular outreach, surgeons restored vision for more than two dozen children.
“The truth is that I did not know about the organization that was making this possible.Before the surgery, I was worried about the cost implications because I did not haveenough money. So I came in to ienquire from the health workers about the surgery and the post-op medication costs, and they said everything was free. Frankly, that was a big relief! Thanks to the people making this outreach possible, I wish them prosperity and long life,” she says.
Agana looks forward to bringing Odelia home to her adoring older sisters and brother. “The family will be happy to see Odelia when we return home. They will be even more excited to see that her eyes are clearer with no signs of cataracts,” Agena smiles. ”They can't wait every morning for the opportunity to play with her. Her brother, who is four years old, has even bestowed on her the title of 'Princess Odelia.’”
“For Odelia, I know her development is much slower than expected, so I will give her more attention as she learns how to identify objects and picks up words. I can't wait to teach her one of my favorite children's rhymes which goes like this:
‘See see sew.
I can see a bird.
Standing on the tree.
Ah Ah Ah.
Where is my gun?
If I see my gun.
I will shoot shoot shoot.
And the bird will be mine.’
I know that will make Odelia happy.”