Outreach In Malawi
In collaboration with the African Bible College (ABC) Community Clinic, a tea of 18 specialists travelled to Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa, in February 2013 for a multidisciplinary outreach trip. The team included surgeons, operating room nurses, anesthesiologists and anesthesia technical support. They worked in collaboration with local doctors and nurses to evaluate over 100 patients and provide 40 surgeries for children and young adults in need of reconstructive repair. The ABC Community Clinic arranged transportation and accommodations for the patients, many of whom traveled long distances from small, remote villages.
In their roles as educators representing University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, Stanford University and Rady’s Children’s Hospital San Diego, ConnectMed team members also gave presentations to local physicians and health care professionals on speech therapy, anesthesia, operative care and dental care relating to the surgeries performed.
In May of 2014, we once again partnered with the health care professionals and staff at ABC Community Clinic to provide reconstructive surgeries. This time our team included a diverse group of 23 volunteers, who worked alongside local staff members including doctors, surgeons, translators, hospital and clinic staff. Over the course of a week, our teams collaborated to successfully evaluate 75 patients, provide 36 free surgical procedures, orthodontic/dental services including tooth extractions and obturators, speech therapy, nutritional evaluation, audiology, and psychological counseling. While many of the patients evaluated were not eligible for surgery because they were undernourished or recovering from illness, their caregivers still met with ConnectMed specialists, such as our audiologists and feeding specialists, to provide techniques and tools to ensure the child’s health in time for the next visit.
Support of Local HealthCare Professionals
Supporting local specialists like Dr. Banda is at the core of what ConnectMed does and believes. We believe that strengthening local healthcare systems through training of native specialists is more effective addressing the surgical deficit in developing countries than by sporadically transporting a U.S. team there.
While a traditional “mission trip” to Malawi can provide one-time surgeries to potentially a large group, it does not address the need for post-operative follow-up care nor does it make a dent in the country’s statistics: 2 plastic surgeons and 2 in training for a national population of 17, 849, 781.
Our hope is that with time and a little support, Dr. Banda can help to build up the country’s plastic surgery program.