• Apr
    • 25
    • 2017

Mwanza Community Wound Care Program

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In Mwanza, Tanzania and throughout east Africa, wound care and infection are largely overlooked health issues. Making this issue more complex is the inaccessibility to medical and follow up care that many patients living in rural and sub-urban areas of Tanzania face. For example, in Mwanza, Tanzania (located on the coast of Lake Victoria), many injured people travel hours and in some cases, days, by bus, van, motorcycle, and boat to get to the hospital. Once they arrive, their treatment may require multiple follow up visits. This follow up care is essential to prevent and treat infection, which can lead to the failure of surgical procedures and even death. The challenge of transportation, if undertaken, is expensive and takes many from their jobs and responsibilities, a cost of time and money that can quickly devastate a family – exasperating those who are already facing a health crisis.

To address this issue, Tanzania Rural Health Movement, a longtime Mission: Restore partner, will soon be launching the Mwanza Community Wound Care Program. The service itself addresses these various issues that patients face such as wound care and infection management, post-operative care, and inaccessibility to hospital care due to travel time and distance. The Mwanza Community Wound Care Project aims to tackle this problem in the surrounding area by sending skilled nurses directly to patients’ homes, where they can then provide direct, accessible, and quality wound care treatment and post-operative care to patients in the comfort of their own homes. Mission: Restore is excited to join Tanzania Rural Health Movement in launching the new program this Spring 2017 by providing specialized trainings to traveling nurses.

This past March 2017, Dr. Silvio Podda led Mission: Restore’s first training and discussion session with Tanzania Rural Health Movement staff, medical students, as well as Bugando Medical Centre Burn Unit staff and nurses. The session began with a lecture from Dr. Silvio Podda, where he outlined best practices and post-operative care tactics, methods to keep wounds sanitized, and signs that suggest wounds are on the verge of infection. Following this, Mission: Restore Program Manager, Kate McAuliff opened the discussion for the medical professionals, students, and staff in attendance, to share the biggest challenges they face regarding wound care management. Together, ideas and workable solutions were discussed on topics such as infection, ward congestion, physiotherapy, lack of materials, poverty, and delay in patients seeking care. pic3

Patients from Mission: Restore’s March 2017 Surgical Training at Bugando Medical Centre will receive post-operative care treatment through the Mwanza Community Wound Care project following their releases from the hospital. The expenses have been covered by Watsi.org, another new and exciting Mission: Restore partner. Watsi funds the surgical procedures of patients who lack the financial means and health insurance to cover the expenses.

Mission: Restore is proud to partner with Tanzania Rural Health Movement on the Mwanza Community Wound Care Program. We are eager to watch this innovative project grow, and see the impact for our community patients across the Mwanza Region.

    • Apr
    • 10
    • 2017

Surgical Training Trip, Tanzania

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The training at Bugando Medical Centre was a successful week of surgery and learning. With surgeon educator, Dr. Silvio Podda, and local surgeons coming together to perform 14 surgeries. The procedures varied in complexity and accomplished our ongoing goal of meeting the needs of complex cases as well as addressing cases that occur often and have a high educational value add. This trip marked Dr. Silvio’s 20th surgical mission!

Fourteen patients from two months old to 38 years of age were given vital surgical care, including but not limited to skin grafts, debridement of wounds, contracture releases, and scar excision procedures. Together, three complex cleft lip and/or palate repairs as well as two complex flap procedures were performed over the course of the week. In the weeks following the trip, Mission: Restore will lead a telemedicine consultation with Bugando Medical Centre and surgeon educator, Dr. Silvio Podda. This call allows for the Mission: Restore mentorship network to stay active and growing, as well as allows surgeons to work together in determining next steps needed for complex cases, while even across borders.

Overall, four skilled local surgeons participated in the March training trip. While the focus was concentrated on two surgeons from the General Surgery Department and the Burn Unit, this training spanned three surgical specialties. Cases from the Orthopedic surgical ward as well as the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) surgical ward were performed, and two enthusiastic surgeons from those two departments received vital training as well. Local surgeon participants included Dr. Philip (Resident Surgeon, Burn Unit Manager); Dr. Vihar (Specialist Surgeon); Dr. Inyas (Orthopedic Specialist Surgeon); and Dr. Olivia (ENT Specialist Surgeon).
3 2

The training trip also marked the introduction of two new Mission: Restore partnerships and programs. A workshop with Tanzania Rural Health Movement kick-started our training week, and focused on wound care management and accessible post-operative healthcare. Additionally, Mission: Restore partnered with Watsi, an organization dedicated to funding the surgical procedures of patients in financial need, to cover nine patients’ surgical procedures and post-operative care. Mission: Restore looks forward to operating together with these organizations that share goals in providing accessible surgical healthcare options to their communities. By working together we’ll be able to make safe surgical care more accessible to the patients who need it most.

    • Mar
    • 14
    • 2017

Drought Today, Surgery Tomorrow

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“Over 36 million people in Southern and Eastern Africa face hunger largely due to drought and high temperatures…An unexpected but real impact of drought and hunger is the increase of household burn injuries for children.” Read the full article written by Program Manager, Kate McAuliff, who is currently based in Mwanza, Tanzania.

    • Mar
    • 02
    • 2017

Michelle’s Mission: Driving Data to Support Surgeons

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2017 is Mission: Restore’s year of data. With the launch of our 3×3000 Campaign we will harness the power of data to measure the impact of our integrated programs.

2017 has also brought a new member to the Mission: Restore team – Research Fellow: Michelle Zavila. Michelle drives the data, and the data drives our campaign!

Michelle is a vital member of our team, and more specifically – the Field Team. She lives and works in Mwanza, Tanzania – the hub of our work at 5 hospitals throughout East Africa. Michelle’s background in Anthropology, Event Operations, and Data are invaluable to our work this year – she’s a triple threat!

“I am very excited to be part of Mission: Restore, especially now, as we are rapidly expanding our training programs and data collection efforts.” Michelle says “Having a background in both events and data, I am looking forward to our upcoming East Africa Regional Training this June. I’m also eager to dive into our surgical data collection to see how those findings can help us better support local surgeon partners with new opportunities and training experiences.”
Before joining us in Tanzania, Michelle worked at the Clinton Global Initiative, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation. There, she did Event Operations Coordination and was responsible for large events, and their related technologies. Michelle is not only brining her New York experience to the table, she also studied in Ecuador, and worked in Kampala, Uganda launching an education project for inmates at Luzira Prison – designing and teaching classes aimed at giving inmates tools to reintegrate back into society.

“I was attracted to Mission: Restore for several reasons. The first being the sustainable knowledge sharing model that is at the core of their work, and the overall mission to empower local surgeons in East Africa by bridging communication and mentorship opportunities on global health and traumatic injuries across borders.

Second was the people—upon first impression, both the organizational staff and their partners had great energies, high ambitions, and impressive results. I wanted to be part of it all!”

Michelle’s background in Anthropology, her work and studies in South America and East Africa, as well as her work at the headquarters of a large international foundation, make her a great resource for implementing and expanding Mission: Restore’s programs this year!

Check out updates from Michelle and our Field Team via our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and right here on the blog!

    • Jan
    • 26
    • 2017

Joint Cases: Nairobi, Kenya|New York, USA

Posted by In Mission: Restore Tagged

This January, a team of pediatric and plastic surgery specialists including Mission: Restore Founder, Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh successfully separated 11-month old conjoined twins, Ballanie and Bellanie. The 21-hour-long surgery was the first of its kind at the Maria Farero Children’s Hospital, part of Westchester Medical Center, in Valhalla, NY. It consisted of multiple hand-offs from one surgical specialist team to the next– a particularly challenging aspect of the surgery, as most complex procedures only require the assistance of one subspecialty team.

Ballanie and Bellanie, from the Dominican Republic, share much in common with another set of twins that Mission: Restore is familiar with. Blessing and Favour, now two years old, were born in Nairobi, Kenya. Both sets of twins were originally linked at the base of the spine and have since been successfully separated through a rare and intricate procedure. Blessing and Favour’s procedure also represents the first surgery of this type performed in Sub-Saharan Africa, taking place at the University of Nairobi Kenyatta National Hospital. Their procedure was performed in 23-hours by a team of 60 surgeons this past December.

Blessing & Favour pre-surgery

Blessing & Favour, post-surgery (Nairobi, Kenya)

This past year, Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh and his team at Westchester Medical Center participated in periodic telemedicine consultation calls with Dr. JP Ogalo, and his colleagues at the University of Nairobi Kenyatta National Hospital. Together, the two surgical teams, consisting of students and surgeon specialists, discussed a variety complex reconstructive surgery cases. It just so happens that both hospitals would end up receiving similar cases that required the same rare procedure performed.

University of Nairobi Kenyatta National Hospital (UNKNH) acts as a leader in the plastics and reconstructive surgery space in East Africa, and is a key partner in Mission: Restore’s surgeon network. Two bright, young surgeons who have received surgical education grants from Mission: Restore currently take part in UNKNH’s plastic and reconstructive surgery Mmed program. The hospital also hosted Mission: Restore’s first annual East Africa Regional Training this past June, 2016, bringing together 41 surgeons from nine different countries for reconstructive surgical trainings.

From the variety of specialty surgeons needed to successfully perform these unique and innovative procedures, to the telemedicine consultations held between medical partners in NY, USA and Nairobi, Kenya, the message remains clear: we will only grow stronger, smarter and more strategic when OPERATING TOGETHER.

By: Michelle Zavila, Mission: Restore Fellow


    • Aug
    • 07
    • 2016

World Economic Forum Global Leadership Fellows Bring Fresh Ideas to Mission: Restore

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This summer, Mission: Restore had the privilege of being chosen as a participating group in the World Economic Forum’s Global Leadership Fellows program. WEF Global Leadership Fellows Diego, Sarah, and Roger (pictured below) worked with Mission: Restore team members to learn about how our organization is working to shrink the global surgical gap, and to answer the question of how we could maximize collaboration among surgeons and surgeon educators to increase our global impact.

WEF GL Fellows

The team presented their proposal to Mission: Restore in July at WEF’s New York City offices. We were thrilled to hear their ideas, which included several new ways to bring digital mentorship and improved communication platforms into Mission: Restore’s work. As we continue to develop our initiatives in networking building and surgical training, we look forward to incorporating the innovative insights provided by our Global Leadership Fellow team!

    • Jul
    • 13
    • 2016

Children, Cooking Accidents, & the Holy Month of Ramadan

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By Matthew O’Brien

On a tour of the Mnazi Mmoja Regional Referral Hospital in Zanzibar last moth, one of Mission: Restore’s partner surgeons pointed to a burn unit overflowing with young children. During the month of Ramadan, he said, the burn unit is usually over capacity due to the increased prevalence of burns caused by cooking accidents.

Pediatric burn injuries are a major cause for concern in many lower-income countries and are often associated with meal preparation. The use of open flames, floor-level cook surfaces, and food preparation areas that are not separated from common areas of the home all make pediatric burns more common, especially for the poor. During Ramadan, those risks are amplified. Many point to the the preparation of the evening meal as the reason for the uptick in burns during the holy month. That meal, called iftar, typically includes a variety of dishes which families gather to eat together as they break the daily fast. In many instances, a house full of family, the task of cooking many different foods, and the evening prayers cause caretakers to become distracted and for children to come into contact with hot surfaces, food, and flames

In one such incident, Ahlam, a toddler living in Zanzibar, Tanzania, was severely burned on her left hand when she inadvertently dipped it into a pot of ugali, a staple porridge in the region that her mother was preparing for iftar. She was brought to Mnazi Mmoja Regional Referral Hospital in Zanzibar’s capital, where she was treated for the burn over the course of one month. Once she returned home, her parents were tasked with continuing to change her bandages and to return her to the hospital for follow-up visits, a process that proved too expensive to maintain. While the burn did eventually heal, Ahlam’s hand was left with her 4th and 5th fingers fused and unable to extend from the palm due to thick scar tissue known as a burn contracture.

In December, 2015, 4 years after her original injury, Ahlam returned to Mnazi Mmoja to undergo surgery to release the burn contracture and restore function to her left hand. The surgery was part of a Mission: Restore surgical training wherein Zanzibari surgeons operated alongside American plastic surgeons. Through the training, those local surgeons not only repaired the damage to Ahlam’s hand, but they also learned the skills necessary to perform similar procedures in the future.

Fortunately, Ahlam’s hand was back in working order at a follow-up visit in June, 2016! But, many other children remain at Mnazi Mmoja recovering from burns sustained during the month. While Ramadan has come to an end, the burns that occurred during the month will continue to impact those effected for years to come. However, simple strategies, such as keeping children out of areas used for cooking, serving children rather than having them reach for hot food themselves, and using elevated cook surfaces, can be effective at reducing the risk of burns throughout the year and especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

    • Jul
    • 11
    • 2016

Fresh Eyes on Evaluation

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By Kate McAuliff

For the past month, Mission: Restore has had two incredible Summer Fellows. One week after our first Fellow arrived, our Field Team grew again to include Matthew O’Brien, an MPA student studying Economic and Political Development at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

From the moment we picked Matthew up at the small local airport, we were already discussing upcoming Mission: Restore activities. Despite my intentions of giving our newest Fellow some time to settle in, Matthew dove into work immediately, and now a month later he still maintains that energy and enthusiasm.


The strength of the Mission: Restore team lies in our varied expertise – Matthew brings his to our curriculum development and evaluation.

“My combined experience in public health and education in addition to my ongoing training in development provide me with some background to think through how to best evaluate health related training,” he says. Matthew’s diverse background combines science, health, and education. He earned his BA from Boston University in Biological Anthropology, taught with Teach for America in Chicago, and worked for a non-profit focusing on health education – his experience is a perfect match for evaluating Mission: Restore’s training curriculum and programs. Through evaluation, Mission: Restore can work toward ensuring the consistency and efficacy of our activities.

“This summer, I’m excited to support Mission: Restore’s push for improved evaluation of our surgical training and long-term patient outcomes. To do so, I am piloting new evaluation tools for local surgeon trainees to evaluate Mission: Restore’s work and building curriculum tools to support the highest quality training based on their input.”

A vital tool for the sustainability of Mission: Restore’s work is patient follow up. This summer, Matthew is conducting patient interviews. “I am conducting interviews with past patients of Mission: Restore’s partner surgeons to assess the effectiveness of their operations and learn more about the healthcare systems where we work.”

Last week, while we conducted surgical training at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar, Matthew met with patients who received surgery six months ago with Mission: Restore. This gave us a chance to see how they are recovering, and gave the patients an opportunity to share their experiences.

Keep an eye on the Mission: Restore blog to read the powerful stories of seeking care and the impact of reconstructive surgery!

    • Jun
    • 23
    • 2016

EART16 in Nairobi, Day 3

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UNKNH entrance (1)

Wednesday marked the final day of EART16 (click here recaps of day 1 and day 2),  Mission: Restore’s first ever regional surgical training in East Africa. The 41 participating surgeons started off the day by taking part in participating and observing two live surgeries. Despite the small size of the operating theater, the surgeons were able to monitor the surgeries with two simulcast screens set up nearby. Through this set-up, the surgeons were able to pose questions in real time about the techniques being used.

Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh used the moments between these final two surgeries to debrief the attendees on the importance of teamwork in the OR for achieving the best surgical outcomes. After the surgeries were complete, the surgeons discussed and ask further questions about what they had observed in the OR, sourcing knowledge from their more experienced colleagues, and learning more about the techniques they could bring with them to their own hospitals.

The final day ended with the presentation of certificates and closing remarks from the Chair of the Department of Surgery, Professor Peter Ndaguatha, who celebrated the diversity of the participants and the continued collaboration between Mission: Restore and the University of Nairobi Kenyatta National Hospital.

But perhaps the most exciting development as EART16 came to a close were the shared contacts, planned visits, and new bonds created among this vanguard of surgeons committed to collaboratively closing the global surgical gap.

Mission: Restore extends our warmest thanks to our sponsors, partners, all of our supporters, and above all, participants, for their enthusiastic participation, and for being committed to tackling this critical global health challenge.

    • Jun
    • 22
    • 2016

EART16 in Nairobi, Day 2

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Day 2

The second day of our inaugural East Africa Regional Training (EART16) began in the OR. While a young child who had suffered severe scalding underwent a skin graft, training participants were able to observe a demonstration of the techniques that had been covered in the previous day’s lecture. Surgeons outside of the OR were also able to watch and learn through a live broadcast hosted in another room.

Day 2’s sessions continued with discussions facilitated by our partners at Smile Train on cleft care. Smile Train strongly emphasized the importance of forming interdisciplinary teams for cleft lip care, and about the critical need for partnership in effectively addressing global health challenges.

Participants were then asked to break into teams, and to imagine how they could create interdisciplinary approaches to medical challenges such as cleft lip. Despite their varying professional backgrounds and countries of origins, there was a consensus among the group that community outreach and engagement was an undeniably key component in effective surgical care.

Network-building and investing in surgeons who are dedicated to mentoring and creating local networks of surgeons is a cornerstone of Mission: Restore’s work worldwide, and we could not be more excited to have this inaugural class leaving EART16 with this renewed call to action.

Come back to our blog tomorrow for a recap of our final day of EART16!