Once on a mission you will be limited in your interactions within the host nation, and it can be a daunting task to provide care to as many people as possible on a mission with a limited budget and time. There will always be more people in desperate need of care than we are able to help. Over time, the local physicians I have had the opportunity to work with have become good friends. Together we have helped numerous patients. My partners are integral in providing follow-up care for our patients. The contacts made during missions are how I continue my efforts.
Explore this issue:April 2010
There are some concerns about humanitarian missions. One of the questions many people have is the impact these missions have over the long term, giving the element involved of performing operations and leaving patients behind. In other words, do the missions help? In order to answer this question I have collected some of this data on otology missions to several nations. Recently I reviewed some of this data, whichdemonstrated that chronic ear problems can be cured with a single procedure. The success rate was equal to that achieved in developed nations one year out from surgery.1
The ultimate goal in humanitarian work is to provide a living change in the care provided by our local colleagues so that they are able to continue to provide desperately needed care to their patients. This common goal transcends borders, politics and cultural differences.
- Horlbeck D, Boston M, Sierra B, et. al. Humanitarian otologic missions: long-term surgical results. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009;140(4):559-665.
Drew Horlbeck, MD, is director of neurotology at Nemours Children’s Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.
Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this op-ed are strictly those of the writer and do not represent any positions held by ENT Today, The Triological Society, sponsors or advertisers.