Speaking of Africa, images of deserts and scorching heat come to mind. Yet, the GX and Shanxi medical teams were faced with numerous earthquakes and heavy rain during their time in Djibouti. There was a magnitude 5 earthquake one midnight, and it startled everyone awake. A rare super rainstorm followed the next day and our staff were unable to return to work because of the floods. Once they resumed work, there was a “red-eye” outbreak. It was very chaotic on-site and GX project officer, Melody WONG recalled, “Although we encountered a lot of difficulties, we all worked together. The local Chinese enterprises helped transport the medical staff and volunteers, our colleagues helped clear the stagnant water, sanitized the place and managed the patients, so as to return to our normal work flow as soon as possible.”
In order not to disappoint the patients coming to the project from afar, the GX and medical teams were determined to return to the hospital and perform operations under safe conditions, bringing light of hope to patients without delay. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Shanxi medical team, 1243 cases of surgeries, including the 5000th case performed by GX worldwide, have been completed in the second cohort in the span of 33 surgical days. The Shanxi medical team performed an average of 37.7 surgeries daily on the 2 METCs parked outside Hôpital Général Peltier and broke the GX record for the average daily surgical rate. The second cohort of the Djibouti project completed a total of 1243 surgeries, breaking the record for the number of surgeries performed in one cohort also!
Dr. LIU Jie-wei, team leader and chief physician of the cataract department at the Shanxi Provincial Eye Hospital, stated that Djibouti has 2 features: First, there are many cataract patients, meaning that there is a high cataract incidence rate. The patients are generally younger but their cataracts are in the more mature stage. Second, quite a lot of patients suffer from diseases in both their cornea and iris. “Maybe it has to do with the climate. The rays are more intense with higher levels of UV radiation in Djibouti, and many patients do not receive timely treatment when they should have gotten surgery earlier. Back in China, we would only see 2 to 3 such cases out of 40 surgeries, but two-thirds of the cases here are challenging.”
To date, GX has performed 1,686 cases of surgeries across the two cohorts. We are very thankful to the GX and medical teams for their efforts and contributions and we hope to bring light of hope to more Djiboutian patients.