Many of you have asked me “What are you going to be doing in Rwanda?”  Well, in short I am going to be assessing the surgical, anesthesia and pharmacy capacity of the district hospitals in the country.  You may now ask, why?  The World Health Organization publishes all these statistics, don’t they?  Well, yes and no... the data gathered by the WHO doesn’t give us a clear picture of the gaps in training and facilities that are necessary to assist developing countries on becoming self-sufficient.  For example, there are five provinces and 30 districts throughout Rwanda.  There is a total population nearing 10 million!  But, there are only < 0.5 physicians per 10,000 people and an infant mortality rate of 72%!  These are just a few of the statistics that indicate that the current health system in this small, developing country is  insufficient to meet the needs of its population.  Rather than sending over surgeons and medicines and used equipment, we need to better understand how we can help this country develop and build its own sustainable programs.  A physician from Ethiopia called this need “capacity building.”  Moreover, global public health has made huge advances in treating infectious diseases.  

But we often forget surgery, anesthesia and pharmacy.  So, my interest is two-fold.  I am working with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative on this assessment (not to mention that I hope to use some of this work during my studies at Hopkins!).  And, I am hoping to get some documentary footage for the Global Surgical Consortium.   

Thursday, August 19, 2010

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