The Vincent Obioma Ohaju Memorial (VOOM) Foundation was established to raise standard of care and create a sustainable medical institution in Nigeria.
VOOM Foundation was born from the vision of Dr. Vincent Ohaju, Medical Director for Trauma Services at CHI St. Joseph Health in Bryan, Texas. Originally from the town of Ihitte, in South Eastern Nigeria, Dr. Ohaju had personally witnessed the effects of inadequate available medical care on friends and family. His father, Vincent Obioma Ohaju passed away in 1983 at the age of 56 due to complications from pulmonary aspiration. A simple procedure such as bronchosocopy readily available in even the smallest hospital in the United States could have prevented his demise.
It was a close and personal reminder to Dr. Ohaju that over 95% of the people in Nigeria live without essential medical services. In 2016 the World Health Organization ranked Nigeria 187 out of 190 countries in healthcare.
The Nigerian healthcare system is poorly developed and suffers from several recent epidemics. Despite Nigerian’s strategic position in Africa, the country is greatly underserved in the healthcare sphere. Health facilities, expertise, personnel, medical equipment and major diagnostic modalities are inadequate, especially in rural areas.
In 2004 and inspired by his father’s death – Dr. Vincent Ohaju establishes the VOOM Foundation as an international medical humanitarian organization. The initial goal is to provide independent, impartial medical care in Nigeria and surrounding developing countries.
Eight medical volunteers conducted a four-day conference providing training in:
- Fundamental Critical Care Support
- Emergency Medical Services
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support
- Rural Trauma Team Development
Exploratory study, design and preparation for the re-opening of the open-heart surgery in Nigeria at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital.
In 2013, VOOM Foundation creates a partnership with the “University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital” in Enugu. Nigeri. UNTH is considered a Cardiothoracic Centre of Excellence and pioneeres the only open-heart program in the country in 1974. By 2003, UNTH completes a total of 102 open-heart cases in a country with a population of 126 million at the time.
January 2013, VOOM Foundation begins shipment of the first 40-foot container worth of medical equipment and supplies including four ICU beds, ventilators, anesthesia machines, operating room tables, etc.
The local team performs the first unassisted open-heart surgery since the missions began in 2013. Two other missions were conducted this year.
Each trip is approximately two weeks long and includes evaluation of patients and confirmation of diagnoses.
March 2013 through May 2017, VOOM Foundation perform a total of 12 medical missions and assists in six others. The medical teams have perform a total of 169 open-heart procedures exceeding the total number of cardiac procedures in the previous 26 years.
Each VOOM medical mission typically includes a group of up to 15 medical volunteers from across the nation – as well as other countries, Canada, United Kingdom, and India.
We are guided by the following principles:
- VOOM Foundation aids populations with medical needs without discrimination and irrespective of race, religion, creed or political affiliation.
- VOOM Foundation observes neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics and the right to humanitarian assistance and demands full and unhindered freedom in the exercise of its functions.
- VOOM Foundation’s volunteers work hard to respect their professional code of ethics and to maintain complete independence from all political, economic and religious powers.
As volunteers, members are aware of the risks and dangers of the mission they undertake, and have no right to compensation for themselves or their beneficiaries other than that which The VOOM Foundation can afford them.
Dr. Ohaju believes those who can change a desperate situation have an obligation to try.