Our Community Health And Surgical Expeditions (C.H.A.S.E) Projects involve initiating and providing non-medical assistance to doctors, ophthalmologists, surgeons and other medical experts to work to eradicate three main diseases in selected beneficiary communities – cataracts, obstetric fistula and Guinea worm disease. Our volunteering and interning International Adventurers will work alongside medical experts to educate, screen, prepare, assist and rehabilitate victims of these diseases along the medico-surgical healthcare delivery continuum as part of the Community Phase of our Expedition Projects in one of three Camps:
1. Cataract Eye Camps
Our Cataract Eye Camps work to eliminate avoidable blindness in our beneficiary communities and promote equality for disabled people. Our Eye Camps commonly help to treat myopia and hypermetropia, common conditions that are both caused by the cornea and lens not focusing properly on the retina, and usually overcome by providing victims with glasses. There are other sight-threatening conditions, which are not so easily corrected or overcome. Cataract, trachoma, glaucoma and river blindness, for example, will cause complete blindness if left untreated. Our Eye Camps contribute to preventing and curing these diseases and work alongside ophthalmologists, surgeons and nurses to educate, screen and restore sight to victims in deprived communities.
2. Obstetric Fistula Camps
Virtually unheard of in wealthier nations, obstetric fistula is an affliction of the very poor, and is predominantly caused by neglected, obstructed labour. If the obstruction is unrelieved, the baby usually dies. The prolonged impaction of its head against the mother’s internal tissue results in a severe medical condition in which a hole (fistula) develops between either the rectum or the vagina, or between the bladder and the vagina. The loss of the baby, the persistent incontinence and the rank odor that follows, along with many other possible complications such as infertility and chronic infections, often conspire to isolate the woman from her family, the society, and even employment. Although a simple surgical repair can mend most cases of obstetric fistula, most women in Northern Ghana go untreated, afraid to admit to the condition or too poor to afford the repair.
Our Obstetric Fistula Camps partner with local and international organizations to combat the disease through birth attendant education and community educational outreaches that identify women with obstetric fistula though a number of avenues – village outreaches, health center referrals, radio shows, and simple word-of-mouth between women. We then transport the women to our Obstetric Fistula Camps, usually in a district Hospital, where they receive free treatment from our volunteering surgeons from our partners in Ghana and abroad. After surgery, we transport the women home. Our volunteers and interns follow up with the women after the surgery to check on their healing and social integration till the Camp ends.
3. Guinea Worm Camps
Considered a neglected tropical disease, Guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) is a parasitic infection caused by the nematode roundworm parasite Dracunculus medenisis. It is contracted when people consume water from stagnant sources contaminated with Guinea worm larvae. Inside a human's abdomen, Guinea worm larvae mate and female worms mature and grow. After about a year of incubation, the female Guinea worm, 1 meter long, creates an agonizingly painful lesion on the skin and slowly emerges from the body. Guinea worm sufferers may try to seek relief from the burning sensation caused by the emerging worm and immerse their limbs in water sources, but this contact with water stimulates the emerging worm to release its larvae into the water and begin the cycle of infection and infestation all over again. Guinea worm is a particularly devastating disease that incapacitates people for extended periods of time, making them unable to care for themselves, work, grow food for their families, or attend school. Our Guinea Worm Camps execute community-based interventions to educate and change behavior, such as teaching people to filter all drinking water and preventing transmission by keeping anyone with an emerging worm from entering water sources.