Le Mete Ghana is a registered Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Not for Profit Organization (NPO) in Ghana. It was incorporated at the Registrar General’s Department of Ghana on 13th November 2012 (appendix 1) and given a certificate to commence business on 26th November 2012 (appendix 2).
The main objectives are to promote health, to provide direct medical assistance to needy and vulnerable groups such as children and women and to support the education of needy children and young health professionals.
Le Mete NGO Ghana and its sister organization based in Italy, Le Mete Onlus Italia and other Italian collaborators, has completed a project in Tamale to provide a modern centre for surgical treatment of urological, pelvic floor, as well as other surgical diseases. The centre serves as a training ground for doctors and nurses in modern surgical diagnosis and treatment thereby meeting one of its main objectives – to offer training for medical and nursing students from various training institutions.
The surgical centre was inaugurated on 21st May 2016. The theatre has been christened ‘Simone Alcuri Centre’
The project works closely with the Ghana Health Service since it offers outreach visits to the regional hospitals as well as the district hospitals.
It serves as a referral centre for these facilities. These visits offer not only clinical services but also continuing professional development to the staff of Ghana Health Service by way of workshops, lectures and skills training.
A memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Tamale Teaching Hospital and the University for Development Studies.
Until 1st April 2010 when the first urologist arrived in Tamale, the North of Ghana never enjoyed regular urology services. Up until 2014 there was only one urologist, who was regularly supported by the ‘Ananse Project’ headed by Dr Hans de Wall – a Dutch urologists based in Ofinso, Ghana.
Currently, Tamale Teaching Hospital, offers urology diagnosis and treatment on a limited scale to the entire population of the three northern regions and the other catchment areas. Only Ten percent (10%) of planned elective urological surgical cases are carried out annually due to lack of theatre space among other reasons.
Tamale, where the centre is located is the capital city of the Northern Region. It is said to be the fastest growing city in West Africa. The Simone Alcuri Centre which is part of a modern surgical facility is expected to serve the three Northern Regions (i.e. Upper East, Upper West and Northern) as well as northern parts of Volta and Brong Ahafo Regions (the so-called Savannah Zone).
Currently, these are the areas from which most patients visit the urology clinic in Tamale. In addition, there are patients from the neighboring Republics of Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Togo. The estimated catchment population is over 6 million people served by five urologists.
One peculiar problem in this catchment area is the long distances patients need to travel in order to receive health care. In some cases patients may travel over 250 kilometers to receive emergency urological treatment.
Most roads are not asphalted and some communities are inaccessible especially during the rainy season. Poverty rates are higher for these communities and the health indicators are the worst in Ghana. Obstetric care is not readily available leading to prolonged labour and complications like vesico-vaginal fistula formation.
Economic activity is mainly subsistence farming during the relatively short rainy season. Hence, food security is not guaranteed for a good proportion of the population. This has led to unacceptable levels of malnutrition and stunted growth in children in these communities. Against this background, there are vast fertile lands that can be put to use.
Until recently, many men, women and children with urological and other surgical conditions were referred to centres in Kumasi or Accra. The journey would often mean completely deserting their farms and homes for a considerable length of time. They face the choice of seeking treatment and losing a livelihood or staying behind and suffering silently with their health condition or in some cases lose their lives.
The urology unit at Tamale Teaching Hospital has access to a consulting room only once a week and on the average, 5 hours a week of theatre time to carry out surgical operations. This has always led to a long waiting list.
The goal of the project is to provide a facility that will offer modern urology and surgical services to the people of the catchment area at the lowest possible cost and to extend general health services to the communities by means of outreach visits.
This centre augments the services of the Tamale Teaching Hospital as well as the University for Development Studies and shall be the nerve centre for urological and surgical research and training in the North of Ghana. It shall also serve as a centre for the training of urology nurses and perioperative staff. We carry out scheduled outreach visits to selected hospitals in the catchment area.
It should be noted that our centre is not in competition with facilities such as the Tamale Teaching Hospital, our role is complementary. The Teaching Hospital, with which we have a Memorandum of Understanding, is well endowed with modern buildings and some equipment. It was recently revamped at the cost of millions of Euros. However, there are many challenges.
The urology team for example at the Tamale Teaching Hospital is assigned only one day in the theatre and another day at the outpatient clinic per week. So the expertise of the Urology team is ‘wasted’ for the rest of the week. Thanks to the Simone Centre, we have an opportunity to offer our expertise to diagnose and treat more patients. Another point of relevance is the flexibility of work at the Simone Centre.
A patient after diagnosis may receive his surgical treatment within a few hours or days if he is found to be fit for surgery. At the teaching hospital it may take several months (average 4 months) to secure a date to receive surgical treatment.