Two physicians of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at Semmelweis University were members of the volunteer medical team of the African-Hungarian Union in Malawi: Dr. Gábor Polony senior lecturer and Dr. Gábor Forgács resident doctor. The special volunteer medical team, which had 5 members, managed to carry out 44 otorhinolaryngological operations in the African country during two weeks. Their youngest patient was 5 months’ old, while the oldest was at the age of 72. As Dr. Gábor Forgács explained, one of the most difficult challenges of their mission was to care for patients who were in an advanced stage of a disease due to the poor conditions of health care in Africa.
Together with their colleagues from Pécs, the physicians were doing the operations in two different operating halls, altogether they carried out 44 operations. Most of the operations were related to otorhinolaryngology, but the volunteer medical team also had to accomplish operations of neck injuries and thyroid disorders. Because of the low-quality of health care in the African country, many of the patients were already in an advanced stage of a disease. There was a patient who had to be operated because of a thyroid as large as an infant’s head. Since no diagnostic imaging equipment was available, the level and stage of deteriorations only turned out during the operations.
The volunteer medical team carried out as many operations during the two weeks as the locals accomplish during four months. According to Dr. Gábor Forgács the reason for this is that in the African country they lack staff for carrying out operations. He also added that many times the local medical team does not know exactly how to use the available equipment properly, therefore the Hungarian physicians tried to transfer as much knowledge to the locals as possible during their stay in Malawi.
Photo: Csaba Szeremley
Translation: Katalin Romhányi