Give Straight Backs
Ethiopia Medical Project
From Dr. Belanger:
The mission of the Conscience International Ethiopia Project is to bring advanced spinal surgery, expertise, mentoring, equipment and care to the underserved and impoverished people of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is an impoverished nation with a population of over 95 million, largely rural. It is estimated that over 1 million people suffer from advanced spinal conditions that would be considered candidates for spinal surgery to improve their condition.
Due to a lack of access to advanced spine care, a great many develop progression of their disease to a point that extremely advanced and complex techniques to address their problems would be required. Many of these patients are examples of the most advanced spinal deformities seen anywhere on earth.
Dr. Theodore Belanger and his team have made 8 tips to Ethiopia since 2010. During each trip, we have evaluated dozens of patients with a variety of complex (as well as routine) spinal disorders. We have performed over 120 surgeries in Ethiopia, some of them representing the most difficult and advanced deformities, often treated with very limited resources.
We have also mentored and trained local Ethiopian staff, nurses, and physicians to try to elevate the local level of care in the long run. Since 2015 we have brought 5 patients from Ethiopia to Dallas for deformity surgery. Bringing patients to the U.S. is onerous, expensive, and difficult, and is therefore limited to just a few each year.
These patients are usually selected because the care required to treat them is not possible in Ethiopia safely. We intend to continue trips at least annually indefinitely into the future, growing the program as we are able through both fundraising and recruitment of other interested surgeons and other qualified volunteers.
Our efforts are supported by several organizations, including
Conscience International () and
Dr. Rick Hodes ().
Dr. Hodes is an American Internal Medicine doctor who has lived in Ethiopia since the late 1980s, and has provided and looked after our patients year-round.
The MyungSung Christian Medical Center has been the host hospital for our work in Ethiopia providing the facilities for us to perform the surgeries, see outpatients in clinic and follow our postop patients until they are ready for discharge.
We generally operate every day possible while there, sometimes from 8 am until 8 pm or later, and our visit is usually between 2 and 3 weeks in duration. There are also opportunities for teaching local health care personnel and physicians in the clinic, hospital ward and operating room environments. Each year, we have improved efficiency of our work, and have been able to successfully grow the program, involving more volunteers and bringing much-needed equipment to donate to the local facilities.
Our continued growth and activity will depend heavily upon the support of generous donations from people and organizations that see the value in providing care to some of the neediest people on earth.
Thank you for considering financial support for our project.
Theodore Belanger, MD