EthiQal, South Africa’s only professional medical indemnity provider, has partnered financially with Operation Healing Hands (OHH) for a third year running, to provide life-changing and life-saving surgeries in the public sector – at no cost to the patients.
Operation Healing Hands was founded by Dr Helene Basson and a group of registered doctors in 2016, to honour a week-long Mandela Day initiative that provided private healthcare to those in need. Patients who couldn’t afford the surgery they needed to resume normal lives, who were placed on impossibly long waiting lists at government hospitals, were given the procedures, pro bono.
The initiative was so successful and so well-received by the public and industry, that the initial one-week charity drive has expanded into a full-blown non-profit organisation, bringing change to the lives of those who are suffering. While OHH recruits hospitals, surgeons, anaesthetists and paramedics to provide free surgery and post-operative care, the charity organisation takes care of all the other arrangements and extra expenses. This is achieved through monetary grants and donations, and corporate sponsorships such as the recurring support received from EthiQal.
500 Surgeries reached in August 2021
On Friday, 27 August 2021, the OHH initiative performed its 500th surgery since the charity was founded in 2016.
Over the years, OHH surgeons have performed a variety of surgeries, including osteotomy surgery, trigger finger release surgery, the amputation and reconstruction of a big toe, burn wounds skin contracture release surgeries and growth removal on an eyelid.
The charity now celebrates its 500th pro bono surgery, a lip reconstruction procedure on a child, Lesedi Mtungwa. The surgery took place at LIFE Eugene Marais Hospital, the ‘birthplace of OHH’, as affectionately referred to on the charity’s Facebook page.
Overcoming the pressure of unprecedented times
South Africa’s state medical services and hospitals are unable to meet the demands of all the patients who need treatment, especially those who cannot afford private care. The sector has experienced even greater strain during 2020 and 2021, due to the rampant spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the healthcare sector.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed immense pressure on the medical industry and hospitals and yet, despite restrictions and delays in surgeries, OHH and its band of medical heroes have not ceased to generously provide pro bono treatment at any given opportunity,” says Alex Brownlee, Executive at EthiQal. “Dr Basson reached out to EthiQal for support two years ago, and we’ve been inspired by the work that they continue to achieve with our contributions, every year.”
EthiQal’s vision has always been to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of all South Africans and residents, by supporting the nation’s doctors. This aligns OHH’s main objective of improving one life at a time, through the liberating surgeries it performs, whether as significant as cerebral palsy treatment or as small as a big toe reconstruction.
“OHH is a much-needed cause in this country and its dedication to changing lives for the better runs parallel to our commitment to preserving and protecting the highest level of quality medical care in South Africa,” says Brownlee.