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Global Health Program

The Global Health Program in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital works to decrease global health disparities by providing education and clinical research expertise to clinicians in low-income countries.

Decreasing Global Health Disparities 

The Global Health Program in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital aims to decrease global health disparities and improve clinical outcomes by providing education and clinical research expertise to clinicians in low-income countries around the world.

Anesthesia safety is a significant problem in many developing countries, and there is a severe shortage of adequately trained and supported anesthesia personnel. We partner with academic and health facilities in countries including Uganda, the Philippines, Ukraine and Vietnam, and our clinicians work directly with local health care workers in these communities to improve perioperative care through education, research, volunteer service and collaboration.

Multidisciplinary Expertise in Disaster Relief

The Global Health Program delivers disaster relief and emergency humanitarian help in crisis situations. An integrated team of clinicians travels nationally and internationally, collaborating across disciplines to identify solutions to challenging cases and provide a high level of skill, knowledge and clinical support to areas of need.

Through our multidisciplinary teams and expert care, we have contributed to disaster relief efforts in:

  • New York after the 9/11 attacks in 2001
  • Banda Aceh after the Indonesian tsunami in 2004
  • New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005
  • Haiti after the Port-au-Prince earthquake in 2010
  • Libya during the 2011 uprising
  • The Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013

Current Projects

Physicians and staff from the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hosptial are involved in the following global outreach efforts:

Academic Collaboration

Uganda

Vicki Modest, MD, works with Ugandan anesthesia residents

Vicki Modest, MD (second from right), teaches Ugandian anesthesia residents how to administer ultrasound-guided nerve blocks, allowing them to improve patient outcomes and comfort.

Our work in Uganda is a collaborative effort between Mass General and the Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, the teaching hospital of the Mbarara University of Science and Technology. We focus on the education of Mbarara and Mass General residents, as well as outcome-based research.

Vicki Modest, MD, is improving postoperative pain control through recent technology and techniques. Her research collaboration with Ugandan clinicians exams the effectiveness of truncal blocks (transverse abdominal plane and paravertebral) for post-surgical analgesia. Through this partnership, she provides academic support and training for Ugandan anesthetists.

Paul Firth, MBChB, is developing a surgical outcomes database at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital. The database tracks anesthetic, obstetrical, surgical and intensive care outcomes. Dr. Firth is also involved in a distance education project for anesthetic trainees.
Learn more about Mass General’s work in Uganda

Ukraine

Gennadiy Fuzaylov, MD, takes trips to manage pediatric burns in Ukraine as part of a collaboration between Mass General and Shriners Hospitals for Children. His efforts involve working with public officials in Ukraine to formalize a program where physicians from Shriners visit Ukraine to teach, and Ukrainian physicians have the opportunity to come to Shriners to learn. Dr. Fuzaylov has also brought some of the most critically ill Ukrainian patients to Shriners for care. Learn more about this initiative

Educational Outreach

Lena Dohlman, MD, supervises the department’s involvement in the Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) Program. HVO is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the availability and quality of health care in low-income countries through the training and education of local health care providers.

Traveling fellowships are available through the Society for Education in Anesthesia (SEA) and HVO. Mass General residents have applied successfully to the SEA-HVO Traveling Fellowship every year for more than 15 years. The fellowship allows third-year anesthesia residents to spend a month teaching anesthesia at an HVO site, which have included countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.

The SEA-HVO Traveling Fellowship exposes residents to a wide range of surgical pathologies and anesthetic techniques not commonly seen in the United States, as well as the realities and constraints of delivering health care in a resource-scarce environment. Fellows learn to communicate more effectively with people from different cultures and are challenged to be creative and flexible in problem solving. Fellows also serve as teachers of anesthesia and as role models for the anesthesia students at their program sites, contributing to the future safety of patients receiving anesthesia in developing nations. The program is active and growing, and Mass General is expected to continue to contribute talented and well-trained residents to this mutually beneficial effort. Learn more about the SEA-HVO Traveling Fellowship

Short-Term Clinical Missions

Our physicians lead short-term clinical missions to various parts of the world to provide clinical expertise on treating a range of conditions, including cleft lip and palate deformities, burn injuries, microtia (absence of the outer ear) and head/neck tumors. Recent trips have addressed cleft palate in Vietnam and the Philippines.

Our Global Health Partners

We collaborate with several organizations that offer opportunities in global health, including:

Past Projects

Academic Outreach

Olof Viktorsdottir, MD (right), teaches anesthesia to a medical student in Mthatha, South Africa.

Olof Viktorsdottir, MD (right), teaches regional anesthesia techniques to a medical student in Mthatha, South Africa.

As a senior resident, Olof Viktorsdottir, MD, spent a month in Mthatha, South Africa, in 2011 after being selected for a SEA-HVO Traveling Fellowship. She spent the month teaching medical students how to use ultrasound in regional and ICU medicine. She also worked with colleagues in the operating room at Nelson Mandela Hospital, a large regional academic hospital. Lena Dohlman, MD, joined her for two weeks as a staff anesthesiologist and HVO Country Director of the South Africa program.

Disaster Relief

Haiti

In 2010, a team of Mass General clinicians traveled to Haiti to assist with earthquake relief efforts. The team included Paul Firth, MBChB; Neelakantan Sunder, MBBS; Akshay Dalal, MD, and technician Tom Monaghan. The team cared for many patients with multiple traumatic injuries such as compound fractures, open wounds, compartment syndrome, quadriplegia and paraplegia. They established a triage system to save lives and limbs and to manage closed fractures, and performed more than 140 anesthetic procedures in the operating room. The project was co-sponsored by Partners in Health and Project HOPE.
Learn more about Mass General's relief efforts in Haiti

Indonesia

In 2005, Dr. Sunder, Dr. Dalal and Michael Fitzsimons, MD, worked with Project HOPE to assist tsunami survivors in Indonesia aboard the USNS Mercy.

Department of Anesthesia collaboration aims to improve postoperative care in rural Uganda

IN THE UNITED STATES and other developed nations, caregivers can access to the latest technologies and techniques, allowing them to improve patient outcomes and comfort. Unfortunately, clinicians in developing countries often lack these critical resources.

Team helps treat burn victims in Ukraine

The Doctors Collaborating to Help Children organization recently launched a new telemedicine program allowing MGH and Shriners physicians to provide quick and efficient consultations for acutely ill burn patients in Ukraine.

Massachusetts General Hospital physician receives Traveling Fellowship Award

Ersne Eromo, MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, receives scholarship to spend a month teaching anesthesia in a developing country.

Mass General clinicians travel to Haiti to assist with earthquake relief efforts

Clinicians from Massachuetts General Hospital and the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine join forces to provide much-needed assistance to victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Improving Burn Care in Ukraine

A resident in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital shares his experience in Ukraine caring for burn patients after receiving a Center for Global Health Travel Award.

Haiti photos by Dr. Paul Firth

Dr. Paul Firth, a physician in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, participated in the Haiti relief effort on the hospital ship USNS Comfort as part of Project HOPE.

Global Health Program

Paul Firth, MBChB
c/o Kristina Deltufo, administrative coordinator
55 Fruit Street, Gray-Bigelow 444
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-3030
Email: pfirth@partners.org

Public Transportation Access: yes
Disabled Access: yes

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