The Brooklyn-based Action, Performance, Commitment (APC) group says its medical mission team recently conducted its 11th successful medical mission to Guyana, the homeland of most of its members.
“This was a small team but very efficient and impactful,” said Dr. Janice Emanuel McLean, the group’s Guyanese-born president and chief executive officer, who also serves as director of the mission team.
Dr. Emanuel McLean said the team arrived in Guyana on April 18 and was welcomed by the administration of the Guyana Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA): Pastor Exton Clarke (president); John Joseph (Health Ministries director); and Pastor Hugh McKenzie, communication director.
About 120 people participated in the medical team’s first assignment, a health symposium, at the Moriah SDA Church.
Emanuel McLean said she presented on hypertension and that the other presenters were doctors Carole Marks (diabetes); Franklin Rodney (substance abuse); Edward McLean (mental health); and Caroline Howell (exercise).
The focus of the mission was Region 7, consisting Barima-Waini; Essequibo islands; West Demerara and Pomeroon-Supenaam to the north; Upper Demerara-Berbice to the east; and Potaro-Siparuni, Emanuel McLean said.
She said the team was divided into two groups. Team A (medical/health education) traveled to Bartica, while Team B (surgical) traveled to Corentyne Berbice.
Dr. Emanuel McLean said residents at Bartica benefited from blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol screening, medical consultation and free medications at the Bartica SDA Church.
At the Bartica Hospital, Emanuel McLean said she said provided health education and healthy eating, exercise and tips on healthy living; Dr. Marks saw patients from the Diabetes and Hypertension Clinics; Drs. Rodney and Edward McLean provided substance abuse and mental health counseling; and nurse Conrad Forsythe and John Joseph performed blood pressure and glucose screening.
Dr. Yvonne Peters and Claire Patterson Monah were occupied with record keeping, monitoring supplies and “ensuring that all aspects of our operations were efficient and effective,” Emanuel McLean said.
The team also visited Agatash, a small scenic, predominantly Amerindian community, with a population about 500-600, where the team provided medical care and medications, health education, mental health and substance abuse counseling, as well as blood pressure and glucose screening.
Dr. Emanuel McLean said a significant number of individuals benefited from the services offered by the team, including medications, substance abuse and mental health counseling, at River’s View Clinic, where the community is a largely indigenous residents at Lower Bonasika in the Essequibo River.
She said the team was “amazed at the number of persons who presented with uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” emphasizing the importance of life style changes, especially healthy eating and exercise. Dr. Marks focused on medication adherence.
They both agreed that health education and awareness need to play a more significant role in medical services offered to patients.
APC medical team donated all the remaining medications and supplies to the Bartica Hospital, valued at about US$20,000.
While the medical team was engaged in clinicals in Region 7, the surgical team, headed by Dr. Boateng Wiafe, a Ghanaian-born ophthalmologist, conducted vision screening and cataract surgeries at the National Ophthalmology Hospital at Port Mourant, Corentyne Berbice.
“The need was so great as people are known to be on the waiting for two to three years before they can receive cataract surgery,” Emanuel McLean said.
She said Drs Wiafe and Howell reported completing surgeries late into the night, completing 34 cataract surgeries altogether.
In addition, Dr. Emanuel McLean said the team conducted a health exposition in Georgetown, the Guyanese capital, featuring vison, healthy eating; blood glucose, blood pressure, lung capacity, substance abuse, hydrotherapy and daily water intake screenings; exercise; and massage and physical rest, among others.
Dr. Marks described the mission as a “transformative experience,” disclosing that she was returning to Guyana for the first time in 40 years.
“Just to be here and offer medical services to my people was a life-changing experience,” she said. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to serve and to see the transformation in Guyana.
“Health education and awareness need to play a pivotal role,” she added, urging local hospitals to consider employing health educators to teach patients about how to take better care of their health.
Emanuel McLean said April 28 marked a “significant milestone” for APC, as it hosted its first Continuing Medical Education (CME) conference in partnership with the Guyana Ministry of Public Health and the University of Chung Conference Center.
She said the conference attracted about 60 health professionals, primarily medical doctors. Presentations were made on research on prostate cancer in Guyana; medical myths; preventing blindness; refractive errors; and the obesity epidemic.
The team concluded its mission with a visit to the University of Guyana, where Emanuel McLean said a partnership was established with the Faculty of Health Sciences for on-going research and a scholarship fund to benefit students in the medical school and health care sector.
The Guyana SDA Conference hosted a farewell event for the team during which Dr. Emanuel McLean received a plaque for APC services to the Guyanese community over the years.