ReSurge International launches RIPA to expand surgical capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa
ReSurge International, a global nonprofit specializing in reconstructive surgery, launched ReSurge International Program in Africa (RIPA), a new initiative to increase access to safe reconstructive surgical care in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa.
18 million people die annually due to surgically treatable conditions and millions more suffer with preventable disabilities. Reconstructive surgery treats congenital abnormalities, traumatic injuries including burns and road traffic accidents, and malignant conditions. These problems represent two-thirds of all the premature deaths and disabilities caused by a lack of surgical care.
According to the medical journal, The Lancet, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 93% of the population lacks access to safe, affordable, and timely surgical care. President and CEO of ReSurge, Jeff Whisenant said, "While we have been working in this area of the world since 1999, we have wanted to expand our presence and our ability to build surgical capacity in bolder ways for many years." The ReSurge International Program in Africa (RIPA) increases the pipeline of medical professionals to provide reconstructive plastic surgery in the region, while also providing financial support to qualified reconstructive surgeons in the region who provide care for the poor.
RIPA combines ReSurge's 50-year experience in teaching and delivering safe reconstructive surgery with new virtual training and visiting educator programs to enhance partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a bold plan to train the first generation of African reconstructive surgeons in many countries.
To develop and orchestrate RIPA and the goal of building surgical capacity across Africa, ReSurge has partnered with the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa (COSESCA). The COSECSA region of 14 sub-Saharan countries has a serious shortage of care, with approximately 1 plastic surgeon for every 10 million people. They are also receiving support and partnership from Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University and other academic institutions across the US. RIPA is already making progress in the following areas:
- Reconstructive Surgery Scholarships
- International Fellowships
- Regional Study Exchanges within Africa
- Visiting Educator Trips
- Surgical Outreach Partners
- E-Learning Centers
- Train-the-Trainer Conference
ReSurge's Consulting Medical Officer Dr. James Chang provides clinical insights and direction for the RIPA initiative, while ReSurge's Director of Global Advocacy and Africa Program, Natalie Meyers, manages all RIPA programmatic activities.
"Building on ReSurge's 50 years of experience and looking forward to making an impact in expanding our reach in Africa," stated Meyers. "This pandemic has taught us is the importance of focusing on local capacity building and thinking outside the box for unique ways we can connect with people. RIPA and the reach it has will ultimately help a tremendous number of people in need of safe surgery."