Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal is the last hope for the desperately poor in Pakistan
A TEAM of medical experts from East Yorkshire have been helping improve healthcare in Pakistan.
Dr Nick Hart, dental nurse Tracey Wiles and lead breast surgeon Dr Penny McManus visited the country to give advice and improve services in their chosen fields.
Dr Hart, who lives in Woodmansey, performed some cleft lip and palate correction surgeries on young children and gave lectures to medical students.
Dr McManus, of Hull, also gave lectures at universities and performed an operation on a woman in her 40s suffering from breast cancer.
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Ms Wiles, 43, went out with the team to work on dental hygiene and tooth brushing.
The trio all went out as part of the Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal (Opsa) – a Hull charity that has been providing free reconstructive surgery over the past 15 years.
Dr Hart, 62, said: "It is very sad to see parents who sometimes have more than one child with a cleft lip and palate.
"These people are desperately poor and there is no free treatment available to them. We are their only hope.
"There is nothing like the NHS in Pakistan. We see families who haven't got two rupees to rub together.
"Often, children with a cleft lip are also thought of as intellectually defective because they have problems with their speech."
The group went to a hospital in Gujrat, which was funded by the Japanese government and set up with the help of the Bashir family.
Although they were mainly based in Gujrat, they travelled all over the country helping at various universities.
Dr McManus said: "I went over to help raise awareness about more modern medical practices.
"The way things are done in Pakistan is like England was in the 1960s and 1970s.
"The main problem with breast cancer is the culture – women don't like to expose themselves to a male doctor.
"There is a big problem with breast cancer there.
"In England, every year there are 50,000 cases but only 1,200 deaths.
"In Pakistan, there are 90,000 cases and 50,000 deaths.
"Unfortunately, we can't solve the problems of a whole country, and women's health is clearly not going to be priority in Pakistan in the near future.
"But whoever we can help will make a small difference."
Tracey Wiles, a dental nurse based at the Highlands Health Centre on the Bransholme estate, used her skills to help young children.
She said: "I spent the first day observing various operations related to cleft lip and palate defects.
"This gave me a better understanding of these disabilities and how they could be corrected by intricate surgical procedures. I was in total awe of the surgeons who had volunteered their time and skills.
"The rest of my stay was spent seeing patients in the hospital who were either awaiting their assessments or operations.
"I gave advice on tooth brushing and dietary advice with the assistance of nurses who had a good knowledge of English.
"I also gave out free samples of toothbrushes and toothpaste that had been kindly donated by students."
The group were in Pakistan for a week in February.
It is hoped their next visit will be in November.