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Miniseminar Showcases Academy’s Role in Global Health

A few of AAO-HNS’ more than 1,100 international members listen to the 2014 Global Health Miniseminar.

As David J. Howard, MD, FRCS, FRCS Ed., from the United Kingdom, walked through the work of a medical clinic in Ghana, he pleaded for help from those attending Tuesday’s “Global Health 2014: Our Academy Around the World”.

The laser he and his team were going to use to treat patients during his last trip to the African country quit working. It was the last laser in West Africa.

“If you have a laser in your hospital—I don’t care if it’s 15 years old; this one was 32 years old—and you don’t want it any longer, please can I have it? We need a laser in Ghana,” he said. 

Dr. Howard continued to discuss the progress and need in Ghana, as well as shared stories about the highly intelligent and capable surgeons and physicians he worked alongside in Ghana.

“It’s very different from the things you see and talk about at the Academy,” he said. “Although there’s a lot of lip service to Africa, it’s still hugely underrepresented. There are so many things that the rich countries of the world need to switch on even more to the poorest continent in the world. The originator [Africa] of men and women, and we still don’t give it enough time and enough finance.”

Other speakers, known as “Good Will Ambassadors,” included Abdulrahman Al-Hagar, MD, who spoke about state-of-the-art approaches to healthcare challenges in Saudi Arabia; Freddy Alcides Ferreras-Mendez, MD, who discussed the need for additional ENT manpower in the Dominican Republic; Dato Lokman Saim, MD, who talked about the challenges and changes in ear care in Malaysia; Jan Betka, MD, who addressed the healthcare economics of Czech Republic; and Jose Julio Letort, MD, who shared stories about serving the underprivileged in Ecuador.

“We’re all in this boat together,” Moderator James E. Saunders, MD, said following the presentations. “The problems ‘over there’ are really the problems that we have here as well. I think all of this wraps together with the Annual Meeting theme of ‘Transforming. Thriving. Together.’ One common thing through all of these presentations was otolaryngologists are colleagues pushing these things forward in all of these areas.”

The AAO-HNSF has more than 1,100 international members, who make up about 10 percent of the Academy’s total membership. These members hail from 87 countries. The Academy partners with 55 corresponding international societies. 

Incoming President Gayle E. Woodson, MD, concluded the session by saying Americans have a lot to learn from countries that do more with fewer resources.

“It’s wonderful for you to come here and share so we can enrich our knowledge of things,” she said. “The more I learn when I go places and how much everybody—no matter what country or religion—has the same kinds of basic human needs. The ear nose and throat anatomy is not different, but certainly some of the diseases we face are different and the resources we have available are different.”