October 1999 Bulletin

Safari in Africa leads to program of Orthopaedics Overseas

Three years ago, George F. Rapp, MD, went on safari in Africa, but deviated from the tour group.

The detour led him to Eldoret, Kenya to visit the Moi University Faculty of Health Science (MUFHS). Opened six years ago, the medical school doubles as the local district and regional hospital and serves a population of 300,000.

His intent was clear: "I'd thought this just might be a good place for an Orthopaedic Overseas program," he recalls.

Dr. Rapp also knew that David Matthews, MD, a general surgeon in Indianapolis, was doing missionary work for MUFHS. He wanted to see how Dr. Matthews trained medical students and tour the facilities.

What Dr. Rapp, a retired clinical professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Indiana School of Medicine, found was "startling," he recalls. "They only had one OR and it was primitive-not clean, didn't have enough operating equipment. There also were insufficient scrub outfits for surgery. And if the hospital had a caesarian section to do, they'd have to cancel all surgery that day."

Indiana University School of Medicine has had an ongoing relationship with MUFHS for the last six years, providing the medical school with a full-time internist, residents in medicine or pediatrics, medical students and other visiting residents, but orthopaedic surgeons were lacking. And Dr. Matthews' surgical talents were already well extended into orthopaedic care.

"We really needed some orthopaedic care there since Kenya has the highest road accident rate in the world," points out Dr. Rapp. "They have a lot of trauma cases that are neglected, compound fractures of the upper and lower extremities in which surgery was delayed and untreated bone infections."

So, Dr. Rapp is spearheading a new Orthopaedic Overseas program in Eldoret, Kenya at MUFHS. The goal is to advance the education of general and orthopaedic surgeons and medical students in the treatment of common fractures and other orthopaedic problems. Volunteer applications are being accepted for year 2000.

Yet, Dr. Rapp also knew that in addition to Orthopaedic Overseas medical assistance, funding was needed to build more surgical suites, buy medical supplies and other necessary equipment.

Dr. Rapp and his wife-through a matching grant from their church, The Second Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis-donated $180,000 to build four surgical suites, one recovery room, a surgeons' lounge, nurses' lounge and an anesthesiologists' room.

To volunteer, contact Health Volunteers Overseas or Orthopaedics Overseas at (202) 296-0928, or send e-mail to info@hvousa.org or visit their web site www.hvousa.org.

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