Schools taking the leap to Global Health education

Leading universities are taking the next step in developing effective global health practitioners. Collaboration among health professional schools nationally, or even internationally, will create unity to battle the need for care across the world.

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Understanding International Volunteerism – Focus in Haiti

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, there was an influx of medical volunteers and desire to help in such a traumatic event. While this displays admirable initiative, there are many factors that go into international medical volunteerism outside of the desire to do good work that require experience and understanding of local culture.  In one study, co-authored by Richard Gosselin of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, almost two-thirds of the surgeons who volunteered in Haiti had no prior disaster experience.

When a nation has declared a natural disaster, “disaster relief” is primarily in the first 24 to 72 hours following the event. In this situation, outside aid must be completely independent of local resources; providing their own medicines, staff, food, water, sometimes electricity and anything else needed to perform their role. The troubled area cannot be depended on or depleted of remaining resources when providing assistance. Many medical volunteers do not recognize or have the capacity to provide these resources when traveling to provide assistance; military and governmental organizations, primarily, are able to.

As days, weeks and months go by, the focus is on humanitarian aid. Many organizations will have developed a base for care and semi-permanent facilities. At this point, medical volunteers are able to connect and work with a well-experienced and community-integrated group to efficiently provide care. In this setting, doctors are able to use resources immediately available to them to perform surgery in a safe and effective way for the nation in need.

 With social media and news outlets, charitable organizations and medical providers have expressed the consequences of “inexperienced” medical volunteers. Questions we need to ask ourselves are:

When are we doing more harm than good?

Is this the best use of our skills and time?

How can we avoid recreating the wheel?

What can I learn before going into a culture completely different from my own?

Whether you are a community volunteer or a volunteer with a specific skill set, it is crucial to consider these questions when helping in disaster relief or humanitarian aid.


In the coming months, IVUmed is performing two surgical workshops in Haiti, one in Pignon and one in Deschapelles. Both the leaders and many of the volunteers going on these trips have been at least once a year for the past two years. This has given us the opportunity to develop relationships and partner with other organizations, such as Project Haiti and well established hospitals in the region.


To hear an informative podcast on the consequences of volunteering, please click here: The Tragic Consequences of Crisis Volunteering, by Amy Costello.

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RWANDA Photos 2012


To see photos from our recent IVUmed Workshop in Rwanda!

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Urology workshops show promising future for urology advances in Kigali, Rwanda

As our first surgical workshop in Rwanda, the IVUmed team was encouraged by the opportunities for surgical education there. The team worked in two sites: Kigali and Gitwe. Our volunteers, led by Drs. Hiep Nguyen and Richard Santucci taught pediatric and reconstructive urology in Kigali, while in Gitwe, reconstructive urology was the primary focus.
Dr. Nguyen and the pediatric urology team were based at King Faisel Hospital and the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali where they had the opportunity to provide surgical education and conclude the workshop with a day-long educational symposium. IVUmed and our Rwandan partners plan to continue pediatric and reconstructive urology education in Kigali. The facility is well-suited for surgical training and includes a faculty that is eager and capable. Dr. Nguyen has already made plans for a follow-up visit in late spring.
“This trip provided me with more experiences than I ever could have expected. I was able to conduct research, help out with a mobile EMR system, assist in the OR, and generally get a much better feel for the needs in East Africa,” mentioned David Miller, MPH candidate and IVUmedvolunteer.
With minimal resources available in Gitwe, Dr. Santucci and fellow IVUmed volunteers were able to assess the need and discuss opportunities for the physicians in Gitwe for continued education.


During their time in Rwanda, the IVUmed volunteers served 24 patients at the two sites. Twenty physicians were able to attend the one-day symposium from the surrounding area.

Surgical need on the international level has dramatically increased, only 3.5% of surgical procedures are performed in the poorest one-third of the world.

How can you help?

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American College of Surgeons Present Surgical Humanitarian Award

American College of Surgeons’ Clinical Congress officially presented Dr. Catherine deVries, Founder and President of IVUmed, with the Surgical Humanitarian Award:

Dr. deVries received the Surgical Humanitarian Award for dedicating 20 years of her career to improving urological care around the world. A practicing pediatric urologist, founder and director of the Center for Global Surgery at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and professor of surgery at the university, Dr. deVries recognized the unmet needs of children with genitourinary conditions and anomalies, and developed a model of care tailored to the needs of these patients. In 1994, she founded International Volunteers in Urology, the first not-for-profit organization specifically focused on teaching urology in resource-poor settings. Using a comprehensive, sustainable approach, IVU (now IVUmed) oversees highly skilled teams that train physicians and nurses in most areas of urology throughout Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The far-reaching impact of these educational partnerships can be seen in countries like Vietnam, where early IVUmed trainees have established a urology training center in Ho Chi Minh City, which treats more than 1,000 patients annually and trains local physicians. In Honduras, local partners now conduct their own surgical outreach workshops. Similar successes have been achieved in the 30 countries where IVUmed is active and further leveraged by a wide range of international partnerships.”

We are thankful to have a leader among leaders here at IVUmed, Dr. deVries has established an organization that now sits at the table of leaders in global surgery, recruiting some of the most-skilled, humble and dedicated surgeons to teach surgical skills around the world.

For the rest of the article and award announcement, please go here:

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IVUmed is committed to making quality urological care available to people worldwide.