On Monday October 21st, the UW Global Health Resource Center, the Global Health Group, and the Surgery Interest Group co-sponsored a screening of The Right to Heal at the Medical Sciences Building Health Sciences Center at the University of Washington campus, which brought together over 60 medical students, residents, and faculty with a focus on global health. The screening, initiated by Stephanie Edlund of the University of Washington’s Global Health Resource Center, was our gracious host and event organizer.
An introduction was given by Dr. Charlie Mock; Professor of Surgery, Epidemiology, and Global Health at University of Washington School of Medicine and School of Public Health, and former technical officer of the World Health Organization, Violence and Injury Prevention Department. Dr. Mock spoke about his experiences working on various research projects, education and training in Ghana and about the need for increased attention and support from international health organizations and programs in developing nations.
Dr. Jaymie Ang Henry highlighted her personal and professional journey in seeing the poorest populations in her native country, the Philippines, where the lack of medical and specifically surgical care in rural areas inspired her to embark on her quest to create awareness around surgery in developing countries.
After the screening, there was a facilitated discussion between Dr. Mock, Dr. Henry and the medical students who became actively engaged in the issues surrounding the surgical deficit globally and were particularly interested in the role of clinical officers in workforce training and the delivery of surgical services along with wanting to know more about the challenges surrounding infrastructure and equipment gaps. Their interest lie in career advancement opportunities in this area, and how they will be able to contribute in this stage of their lives and careers to effectively join this movement.
Proactively, they asked, “What can I do now and what can I do to prepare for the future?”. Our answer was to acknowledge that, “The problems that limit access to surgery are very complicated, due to the requirement for a transfer of knowledge. The actual basic surgical procedure that needs to be deployed is something that is already known but delivering surgical care, creating political will around it, rallying resources, and creating the framework for a global strategy requires the effort of all the stakeholders in surgical care and not just surgeons themselves. It also requires the commitment and collaboration of the global health and international health community in tandem”. Dr. Henry emphasized that the problems in surgical care are not simply medical in nature, and must also be focused on the need to strengthen the supply chain/process. She brought up the challenge of how we transport this technology into an area where there is none. Dr. Mock shared his personal experiences working as a surgeon in Ghana for four years and encouraged the students to follow their interest in the field of surgery, for that's where they will be most well-placed to make a difference.
The evening ended with students thanking the organizers for taking the initiative to bring awareness of this growing problem. Some expressed interest in wanting to spread the message and promote the film and we welcomed their collaboration as the film and the movement grows.