To successfully pursue mission surgery in Africa does not stem from doctors’ willingness to help severely deformed and mutilated patients, instead what is needed is a deep understanding and acceptance of the challenging problems and conditions that exist health-wise in Africa, performing what is generally known as ‘humanitarian plastic surgery’.
The general health situation in Africa is rather precarious, and even if there are hospitals built by some charity organizations most of the time they don’t function at all.
Lack of personnel, poor management and organization, to even stealing, easily lead to a complete breakdown in patient assistance and confidence, so eventually the hospital structures fades away, until it remains in a comatose state.
The University Saint Louis Hospital of Paris, provides local authorities with highly qualified, dedicated surgeons and they and the patients alike, are so thankful for our cooperation.
Not only must the surgeons have huge experience in reconstructive and micro-surgery, a certain skill or boldness must be employed to face particularly difficult cases. Identical results have been achieved using the same techniques in Paris.
Prior to our team arriving in Africa, the patients have been pre-selected – our stay there is around ten days, twice yearly, and each time as many as fifty patients suffering from complex diseases are operated in general anesthesia.
Over the past twelve years (the cooperation with Africa began seventeen years ago), we have performed about 1000 operations.
Thanks to colleagues and nurses living in Africa we can follow up and see our patients regularly. It would be traumatic for many used to living in desert areas to travel, the costs too exorbitant.
Our team is composed of the same surgeons and nurses, while many young colleagues selected from prestigious European, Japanese and American universities, join us from time to time on different missions.
It is certainly not a holiday, nor a ‘soft’ experience either – one must love Africa with all its hardships, struggles and cultural differences.