One of the significant factors about my 3 week stay in Bangladesh this time was the extreme weather. At times the temperature reached almost 40 degrees and for days we were expecting a serious cyclone. The local people complained even more than I did about the intense heat, saying they had never experienced such sweltering temperature in their lives. Then the cyclone came and brought hell with it. Parts of Chittagong were smashed causing much suffering with 80.000 people, including refugees from Myanmar without shelter. All this had a detrimental effect on our plans for ‘cleft camps’. In one hospital where we had arranged an operation session, all non-emergency operations were cancelled because there wasn’t sufficient air conditioning in the recovery rooms. Then, to make things worse Ramadan started which made our plans even more difficult to implement. However, I’m pleased to inform you that Dr Jishu and the BanglaCymru medical team managed to hold a ‘cleft camp’ two days before my arrival and operated on 7 patients. Hopefully, they will be able to hold another session when Ramadan comes to an end on June 24th. In addition, a few weeks ago, a ‘cleft camp’ was arranged at Cox’s Bazar where 13 operations were performed. Individual operations also take place from time to time in Chittagong.
The highlight of the visit this time was the opening of our new medical centre in an extremely poor area of the city. It’s difficult to comprehend how people can survive from day to day living in such circumstances. The centre itself is situated in a brand new multi floor building. We occupy part of the first floor and the layout was designed by Dr Jishu. We have a waiting room, Dr Jishu’s consultation room, a small office for Sulika our health worker sponsored by Soroptomists Pontytpridd, a consultation room for a consultant / locum and, of course our small operating theatre for operations needing only local anesthetics. We have arrangements with a local hospital for general anesthetics to comply with the country’s medical regulations.
I visited our centre every day during my stay and sat with the patients and had an account of their ailments from Dr Jishu. Even now after this short period, this centre is far busier than our previous one. One day we held a ‘medical camp’, which meant that our team went to an isolated area to hold a surgery amongst the poor people of that area. We had to go in an old boat down the river and crossed the straights – all arranged by Sulika our health visitor who, by now is very familiar with all the areas within the centre‘s catchment area. On that day we saw 51 patients. I also spent a day in our village medical centre approximately 40 miles from Chittagong. This medical facility is full to capacity every day.
Since my last update, our prime mission of giving cleft and burns patients operations increased by 27 to a total, since the foundation of BanglaCymru, to 1,211.
ANNUAL REPORT 2016 – 2017
Once again, I send you a summary of the work of the above charity for the year that ended on June 31st. I’m very pleased to inform you that, once again this year, we have saved many lives, given a new life to many and provided medical attention to hundreds of patients that visited our two medical centres.
One of the few negative occurrences during the year was the sharp fall in the value of the pound. This fall started in the last few weeks of the last financial year. This means that everything costs substantially more, and for those of you online you will remember that we failed at the eleventh hour to buy part of the building we now rent because the price had increased substantially following the EU referendum.
One of the highlights of the year was the opening of our new medical centre in Chittagong. We had a centre in the dockland area of the city for the last three years but the circumstances had become too dangerous for our medical co-ordinator, Dr Jishu to spend hours travelling there every day. However, it was a great pleasure for me to open our new centre in an extremely poor area during my recent visit a few weeks ago. Our health worker, sponsored by Pontypridd Soroptomisits had prepared the way and had been working in these slums for weeks before hand and informing people of the opening of the new medical centre. The provision is now a very treasured asset of the community and is visited by many patients every day. Our other centre in the village of Rangunia, approximately 30 miles from Chittagong is full to capacity every day and recently a local councillor came to meet me to express his gratitude on behalf of his local community.
The project is still arranging outside surgeries in the community known as medical camps. This is when the BanglaCymru medical team set up a consultation session in various parts of the slums. We did this in our new area even before we opened our centre and these are mainly arranged by our health worker.
Our prime mission, as you’re aware, is to offer free surgery for cleft patients and those who have suffered serious burns. The majority of these operations take place in hospitals in various parts of Bangladesh, where depend on those hospitals to inform us when more than about ten patients have registered for treatment. I’m pleased to inform you that we have performed 88 operations during the year which brings the total since the set-up of our project in 2008 to 1,211.
It’s a pleasure at the end of the year to send you a positive update on the work of BanglaCymru. During the past few months a great deal of effort has been undertaken to ensure that our new medical centre in Chittagong is thriving. Apart from the daily responsibilities of the centre and the medical camps, taking the medical staff to poor areas to hold outdoor surgeries, one new initiative that’s been a huge success is our fortnightly eye clinic. An eye specialist visits the centre to see patients that have been guided to visit on the advice of our health worker who is sponsored by Soroptomists, Pontypridd. One additional venture has been to employ a new part-time lady doctor who works closely with our health worker and can focus on women’s health and associated medical issues.
For the last few years we have sponsored a medical centre we established in a village 30 miles from Chittagong. Today the centre has become a huge success and is self-sufficient and no longer depends on our monthly contributions. Dr Jishu will keep an eye on the centre and will readily give advice on how to maintain the efficiency of the centre.
Patients from amongst the Rohingia refugees who were treated by the BanglaCymru medical team.
As you’re all aware, BanglaCymru’s speciality and prime mission is to treat those born with the cleft condition and patients who have suffered serious burns. During the last few months we have all watched the horrendous suffering of the Rohingia tribe refugees who have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh. As a consequence of the understandable complexities regarding access to these suffering people it wasn’t possible to offer our medical specialities until recently. This is an area I know well and have used the local hospital in the past to undertake our work, but nowadays this beautiful part has become a place of chaos, of filth, of danger and despair but a kind of temporary sanctuary for these suffering refugees. Therefore, at the beginning of the month BanglaCymru medical team visited the area and found 30 patients, some of them with serious cleft conditions. They were escorted by the police to the hospital where they received the best possible cleft operations. Dr Jishu and the team with return in January. Out of their adversity we were able to offer them a new life thanks to the generosity of people like you, here in Wales.