Free Surgeries for St Lucian Children

Right to left: Dr Romel Daniel, Jacqueline Brown-King, Gemma Moses, Dr Bill Moskowitz and Sybil Martial.

More than 50 children were recipients of free medical care from the former International Hospital for Children now World Pediatric Project (WPP) in collaboration with RISE St Lucia and Tapion Hospital. The annual free clinic which is in its fourth year took place on Wednesday this week and saw local health officials together with American Cardiologists provide ultramodern health care for children at the Tapion Hospital.
The collaboration between the world Pediatric Project WPP and RISE began in 2008 and ensures critical and advanced heart surgeries are provided to selected children at no cost. Representative for RISE, Gemma Moses calls on the corporate sector to be a part of this project. A project she believes will help many families who cannot afford surgeries that in no way can be done yet in St Lucia and of course, will save the lives of their children.
“RISE will organize the VISA and the flight for the parents and children while the World Pediatric Project will take care of all the finances for the patients which includes surgery and accommodation on arrival in Virginia,” explained Gemma Moses.
Jacqueline Brown-King is the WPP Eastern Caribbean representative since 2002. She says the project began with one child and grew into many nations from the Caribbean region with Surinam being the most recent addition to the fast growing project.
“We have about eight missions coming to St Vincent which started in January with General Surgery, in February. We have Physical Therapy, we have Urology, Ophthalmology and we also have plastic surgery. In April we will have the first orthopedic team out of St Louis, so we move from Richmond, Virginia into St Louis where we have that first team coming,” said King.
Co-Director Dr Jacqueline Bird believes the life of every child is priceless and great care must be given to children.
She says the initiative is unprecedented in Saint Lucia and already 27 children facing life threatening heart problems have undergone lifesaving surgery thanks to the World Pediatric Project.
Dr Bird further stated that many critical partners contribute to the success of the annual program–from key player Dr Daniel, the Ministry of Health, the NCF and several travel agencies.                 She hopes Saint Lucia’s Ministry of Health will one day institutionalize the program as has been done in Vincent, where the WPP has developed an Eastern Caribbean surgical hub where teams of US surgeons have operated for the past eight years.
Complicated cases that cannot be handled in the St Vincent hub are referred to the team’s home base in Virginia, USA where all care is free of charge. Assistance with the US visa application process, accommodation and hosting by US volunteers are also benefits for accepted patients.
To date, visiting surgical and diagnostic teams to St Vincent have provided over 2.8 million dollars in donated in-kind medical services, through close to 3,000 surgical consultations and hundreds of life-saving surgeries.
Since being hired in 2009, Dr Ty-Asha Plummer has been able to locally provide over 200 surgeries and more than 1,500 consultations to children in the region providing continuous, year-round pediatric surgical services.
Dr Romiel Daniel together with Dr Bill Moskowitz evaluated and prioritized a list of children for surgery. They also had follow-up examinations on children who have undergone surgery as part of the WPP.

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