October 15, 2010
By Johanna Weidner, Record staff
WATERLOO — A donated CT scanner is on its way from a Waterloo warehouse to a hospital in Ghana after years of struggling to find the machine a suitable place after it was purchased by Waterloo businessperson Shawky Fahel.
“We are very pleased it found a home,” Fahel said Thursday, standing next to the shipping boxes wrapped in holiday paper and Canadian flag stickers, ready to begin the voyage to western Africa.
Fahel, chair of the locally based Canadian International Development Organization, bought the diagnostic machine four years ago from a hospital in British Columbia, where it was used rarely as a backup. He got it for a fraction of the new price of $700,000.
“For $20,000 you can help hugely,” Fahel said.
The trick was finding a place to send the device. Fahel, who was born in Israel, intended to ship it to the West Bank, but the scanner contains mercury and transporting the substance is restricted by the UN.
Next the charity, which aims to relieve poverty and raise the standard of living in the developing world, looked to Uganda, but encountered the same roadblock.
Finally they settled on Ghana, with many hospitals there eager to get the machine. The Regional Hospital of Sunyani, however, had a close relationship with the CT scanner’s manufacturer and are able to maintain it.
The Sunyani hospital moved a couple of years ago into a new, modern facility from another that was almost 80 years old. The CT scanner is battery-operated, a helpful feature when power supply fluctuates.
“This is an excellent unit that they say they can use,” said Fahel, who has been storing the scanner in his Waterloo woodworking warehouse.
The scanner will be used for a variety of situations at the hospital, including obstetrics cases. Mortality during childbirth is high in Ghana, where 750 mothers die for every 100,000 deliveries. That’s compared to seven in Canada.
The local group is partnering with FH Canada, a charity that collects and refurbishes medical equipment to send to developing nations from its Saskatoon warehouse.
Fahel is pleased the machine is finally going to a hospital that will be able to make good use of it.
“We’re very happy,” he said. “It’s a good feeling.”
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