Today, five billion people live without access to surgical care. Sub-Saharan Africa has the most acute shortage of reconstructive surgical care globally, with approximately one reconstructive surgeon for every 10 million people.
The ReSurge International Program in Africa (RIPA) confronts this deficit by training the next generation of medical professionals to provide reconstructive surgery in the region while also providing financial support for qualified reconstructive surgeons in the region who provide care for the poor.
In partnership with the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA), ReSurge sponsors a One-Month Exchange Program for physicians seeking to gain reconstructive surgery training at COSECSA-accredited hospitals. Our latest round of scholarship recipients just completed their month of training.
Dr. Richard Baguma
Rwanda ➡ Uganda
Exchange scholarship recipient Dr. Richard Baguma traveled from his home in Rwanda to Uganda’s Mulago Hospital in May 2023. Dr. Baguma applied for the exchange program to gain experience in cleft lip and palate surgery as well as burn-specific reconstructive surgery. Dr. Baguma told us, “More exposure and hands-on experience will help me gain more confidence in performing cleft surgery procedures. We don’t have enough opportunities for exposure to cleft surgery in my country.”
Today, Rwanda’s acute need for reconstructive surgeons is one of the most extreme in the world, and Dr. Baguma aims to help answer this need with new skills gained through his training in Uganda. “Burn injuries are a major and challenging issue all over the world in regards to plastic surgery,” he shared. “Training and exposure from Mulago gives me an opportunity for hands-on practice and to acquire new techniques.”
Dr. Eyerusalem Fetene Siraw
Ethiopia ➡ Malawi
Also in May, Dr. Eyerusalem Fetene Siraw of Ethiopia completed her training in Malawi at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. Hoping to help fill the plastic surgery gap in her home country, Dr. Siraw applied for the scholarship from ReSurge and COSECSA with the aim of adding new techniques to her skill set. “Every patient is different,” she told us. “That’s one reason reconstructive surgery is challenging. There is no fixed design, and you have to keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date. There is always something new you can learn from patients and researchers. Being able to fix any kind of deformity is a blessing, in my opinion.”
Dr. Oscar Nyamunyamu Sumba
Uganda ➡ Ethiopia
Uganda’s Dr. Oscar Nyamunyamu Sumba spent the month of June training in Ethiopia’s ALERT Hospital. With the aim of gaining skills in hand surgery as well as lower limb, head, and neck reconstruction, Dr. Sumba knows this training will be invaluable to patients in his home country. “I decided to train on hand surgery, lower limb reconstruction and head/neck reconstruction as I found the disciplines relevant to solving the disease burden in my country,” Dr. Sumba shared. “This training will have a huge impact as it directly equips me with the skill set to alleviate the need for people in my community to make long trips in search of plastic and reconstructive interventions.”
Dr. Sumba went on to share with us that he would encourage other surgeons interested in gaining additional reconstructive surgery training to apply for the One-Month Scholarships from Resurge. He wrote, “I would like to encourage other surgeons thinking about applying for a Resurge scholarship, especially those from challenging backgrounds like me, who are looking to positively impact lives in their communities. My exchange program in Ethiopia exceeded my expectations as I also gained a lot more skills in addition to the premeditated scope.”
Statistically, each doctor trained in reconstructive surgery will go on to treat 9,000 patients during their career. With a person dying every two seconds due to a surgically treatable condition, the impact of each trained reconstructive surgeon cannot be overstated. We congratulate Drs. Baguma, Siraw, and Sumba on their dedication to providing life-saving treatment to the patients under their care.
If you’re interested in applying for a One-Month Scholarship through ReSurge’s Exchange Program, you can do so on the COSECSA website.