By Tiffany C. Priester ’04
I want to extend a big thank you to each alumnus who gave generously to one of the Alumni Association mission projects last year. We received a total of $27,420 in donations to use for our various mission projects. I am also encouraged by the small but growing number of alumni who have indicated they have an interest to volunteer abroad. One of our goals is to create a forum where our current missionaries can interact directly with our alumni and provide the dates they need cover or urgent needs and potentially even share interesting cases and get feedback.
Many, if not most, of our mission hospitals in the past century have often held the reputation as providing excellent health care — sometimes, the best health care available anywhere within the developing country in which they are located. As these countries become “urbanized” and medical tourism is flourishing, the “bar” for the standard of care to be provided has steadily been rising. Now, our mission hospitals are seeking not only general surgeons and primary care but also specialists. There is a need for surgical subspecialists, medical subspecialists, and intensive care units. Together with this, there is a shift to including additional formal training, such as ultrasound, tropical medicine, and obstetrics courses/fellowships, for missionaries who are headed out.
There is a new global surgery fellowship at Loma Linda University Medical Center to provide formal, more in-depth training in the surgical subspecialties to better prepare a mission surgeon to be “the only surgeon” around. In addition, a few of our hospitals are adding residency training programs in-country. What a great way to train the next generation in whole-person, evidence-based health care right where they are needed most!
My friend and fellow missionary Ryan Hayton ’05 knows what it’s like to be the only surgeon around. He writes: “Global surgery is centered on advocacy and initiatives aimed to create equity in surgical care and is based on the idea that everyone deserves access to safe surgery worldwide. With the development of Malamulo Adventist Hospital’s general surgery residency run by the nondenominational Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS), the focus of Adventist mission surgery has been altered to include the ideal of training African surgeons who will be the next generation of compassionate, certified, and competent surgeons for African mission hospitals. Malamulo’s surgical program will be celebrating its first two graduates in July 2020. PAACS is undersigned by Loma Linda University and has been training surgeons in African mission hospitals since 1997, and this year it will graduate its 100th surgeon. The future is bright for surgery at mission hospitals as we foresee PAACS graduates working alongside missionary surgeons.”
While overall access to quality health care remains bleak in many developing countries, the future is looking brighter for a few. And you can help it get even brighter by supporting our alumni who are out in the field making it happen!
(AIMS has migrated from being an independent not-for-profit entity to being a council of the Alumni Association. We have maintained all previous board members who desired to continue with AIMS.)