By: CHIOMA UMEHA
Lagos State Government says no fewer than 36,000 limb deformity patients have been screened while 4,000 out of those screened have had corrective surgeries under its Free Limb Deformity Corrective Surgery Programme since the inception of the Programme in 2004. Coordinator for the Programme, Dr. Dolapo Fasawe who stated this at a screening exercise for another batch of beneficiaries at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) noted that about 150 people have also been registered for the latest round of the screening exercise with the hope that they (the people) will all benefit from free surgical procedures. She explained that the programme was conceived in 2004 because the state government realized that there were a lot of people on the streets with various forms of correctable limb deformities who had either resigned to a life of begging or disability. Said she “we decided to start this programme to help correct some of these deformities so that these children and young adults can be useful in the society. A lot of people come to our clinic with various deformities but they are not able to afford the payment for surgery.
There are also people who do not know that some of these deformities could be corrected. So we started this programme to address all these issues, bring the people together, offer surgery, offer rehabilitation and at times give artificial limb so that we can make these patients function properly and be of economic use to themselves”. Fasawe added that under the programme, aside the free surgical procedure that is offered, free artificial limb, wheel chair, crutches, caliphers and walking aids are also given to patients who required them adding that some patients have also benefitted from plastic and knee replacement surgery procedures. She noted that before a patient undergoes surgery, such a patient would have gone through several tests including clinical, physiotherapy and X-ray screening and examinations and would have been certified good for such. “Usually when we screen patients, we always take patients that will definitely benefit from surgery before them for surgery. They will have to go for several tests which include X-ray, for some, we even refer them for medical treatment before surgery. All these tests we usually take between three to four weeks and once we get the result, we call the patients together again and do a final screening. So in another five weeks we should be able to have surgery”, She said. Fasawe opined that the Limb Deformity Corrective Surgery Programme is a sustainable programme that will outlive any government in power.
Head of the surgical team and a Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Adebola Olusegun Laketu noted that there are various forms of limb deformities patients usually present with the commonest been blank disease, deformities from trauma, polio and some congenital deformities. He noted that people who have these deformities present at late stage when the deformity is severe which makes correction cumbersome stressing that early stage presentation of these deformities allow for easier management. Said he, “if we see them early, some of them like those who have rickets, we could treat with medication and sometimes they will straighten out and they will be corrected. Some when they come very early , what we need to do for them are simple surgery and not evolving but when they come very late; when the deformity is very severe, we need to do more complicated surgery for them and the result is not as good as when we do them at a younger early age”.
Laketu added that the screening exercise is to access the patients and plan surgeries stressing that a lot of the patients that came for the screening exercise presented with late stage of deformities and as such there is the need to investigate, screen and prepare those booked for surgeries. “Going by previous experience, we do nothing less than 60 surgeries for each surgical phase of the programme. We are screening them today, we will investigate them and give a date when they will come back for review and then fix a date for surgery”, the Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon said.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on October 24, 2013.