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Foreign Ministry Supports Estonian Surgeons in Gambia


No. 280–E

The Foreign Ministry is supporting the participation of Estonian surgeons in a humanitarian mission in Gambia. The goal of the Estonia surgeons departing for the mission in October is to demonstrate surgeries and create the basis for a surgery rotation to ensure the training of local surgeons.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet noted that the Gambian Ministry of Health has issued an official request for the Operation Hernia Humanitarian Mission to be sent to Gambia, and three medical experts from Estonia who requested to participate will be going to Africa for the mission. “The accessibility of medicine in Africa is extremely low. The population of the African nations together is nearly three times greater than that of the United States, but only 3% of the world’s medical workers work in that part of the world,” Foreign Minister Paet said, emphasising the importance of the surgeons’ contribution.

The Operation Hernia Humanitarian Mission* was created in 2005 to send surgeons to operate on hernia patients in less developed but relatively safe areas of Africa. Over four years, missions have primarily done work in Takoradi and Carpenter in Ghana. In 2010 activities were expanded to Cameroon, Nigeria, Mongolia and Ecuador.

The aforementioned missions generally last 1-2 weeks and the surgeons, who are members of the European Hernia Society, use equipment for surgeries that has been brought along from their home countries, for example hernia trusses, thread, and sterilised gowns and gloves. The surgeons participating in the missions in less developed but relatively safe areas of Africa come from all over the world and do the work voluntarily pro bono during their vacation time.

Surgery was only recently been added to the list of potentially funded priorities by aid organisations (like the Disease Control Priorities Project**) in order to make developing countries more livable even for patients with surgical diseases. During the mission in Africa, the Estonian doctors would like to focus on treating patients with hernias.

The Estonian surgeons’ mission to Africa is being supported by funds from the Foreign Ministry’s budget for development co-operation and humanitarian aid.

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