Joint UK-Australia Sai Medical Camp took place in 14 March 2005. Areas visited included northern Sri Lanka, at Dr Ponnapalam Memorial Hospital on Puthukudyuiruppu, Mullaithivu.
The overland journey to our destination took 12hrs. Every box, equipment and suitcases taken by us was examined by the Sri Lankan security at the border crossing.
At the hospital we were provided with very good accommodation which had air conditioning and fans. All meals were provided and served. Laundry facilities were also provided. We were looked after very well and had always security transport and other help available on the spot.
Our work started with a clinic on 14 March morning. Several orthopaedic and neurological cases were seen and patients selected for surgery. Our nurses were asked to sort out and classify the various medical supplies and orthopaedic and surgical instruments that we had brought and to appraise them as well as liaise with the nurses in the theatres.
The hospital had two well air-conditioned theatres, one dedicated for eye surgery and the other for our use.
The medical team also included Dr K Puvanachandra, who was the leader of the large UK ophthalmology group and was in charge of organising the island wide eye work at five medical camps. His team in our area included Dr Vasuki Sivagnanvel from the UK, Dr Chandra Kumar and Dr Shivantha, eye surgeons from Sri Lanka. Dr Mrs Puvanachandra also assisted them.
Dr Velayuthapillai from the UK was the anaesthetist initially and two days later he was replaced by Dr Kamala Arunachalam from the UK who gave the anaesthetic services for the Australian team.
Besides consulting and doing three operations, we were able to visit three rehabilitation centres for paraplegics and neurologically injured people. Prescriptions were given for specific medications, some of which we had taken with us, for the management of pain and spasticity in these people.