Dr. Farzana Ibrahim Named a Heroine of Health by Women in Global Health; First Surgeon to be Given the Honor
The Heroines of Health award began in 2017 to bring visibility to the contributions of women in global health, especially at the frontline, and showcase the entire breadth of the ways women are improving the health and well-being of their communities. The gala allows global health policymakers and leaders to witness the stories and contributions of each year’s selected class of remarkable women in global health.
Dr. Ibrahim, the first surgeon to be honored, is an assistant professor, assistant director and plastic surgeon at the Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes and Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders (BIRDEM) General Hospital in Bangladesh, an institution established by her grandfather, where she specializes in reconstructive procedures. Dr. Ibrahim earned an MBBS from Bangladesh Medical College and did residencies in both general and plastic surgery at Dhaka Medical College Hospital under the mentorship of Dr. Shafquat Khundkar, a ReSurge International partner surgeon. Since 2006, Dr. Ibrahim has been a partner surgeon for ReSurge International, providing free reconstructive surgery for women cannot pay for services.
“It is extremely significant that a surgeon was recognized at this year’s awards,” stated Sara Anderson, ReSurge senior advisor for advocacy and innovation. “It represents the continued commitment of the global health community to strengthen surgical care as a way of improving the health and well-being of billions of people worldwide. Global surgery is a vital part of global health.”
Four years ago, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution underscoring the immediate need to strengthen essential surgical care as a key component of Universal Health Coverage. Their resolution was based upon evidence gathered by the global health community which found that lack of surgical care is a global health and economic crisis. Currently, five billion people do not have access to safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care when needed. Access is worst in low-income and lower-middle- income countries, where nine of ten people cannot access basic surgical care.
One important way of increasing access to surgical care is increasing the number of surgeons, especially women. For every one million people in low income countries, there are only 3 female surgeons. With so few women in the surgical field, increasing support for women in surgery can have an immediate impact on patient access to care.
Dr. Ibrahim is a participant in the Pioneering Women in Reconstructive Surgery (PWRC) program, a joint initiative of ReSurge and Skinceuticals seeks to support women reconstructive surgeons. The program provides technical training, leadership development, and mentor support to the first generation of local women reconstructive surgeons in developing nations, and fosters the building of essential networks required for safe surgical care.
“We could not be more delighted for Dr. Ibrahim and the award could not be more well-deserved,” stated Jeff Whisenant, ReSurge president and CEO. “Beyond her exceptional surgical expertise, she has shown a real commitment to advancing surgical access in her country. Her work is making a difference for so many.”
ReSurge hopes this program helps bridge the gap of gender inequality not only in surgery, but in healthcare overall. Lack of gender balance in health leadership means that the global health sector loses female talent, perspectives, and knowledge. This must be addressed if Universal Health Care is to succeed.
To learn more about the Pioneering Women in Reconstructive Surgery program, please visit www.resurge.org/skinceuticals.