• Surgeons Without Borders: A Brief History of Surgery at Médecins Sans Frontières.

      Chu, K; Rosseel, P; Trelles, M; Gielis, P; Médecins Sans Frontières, 49 Jorrisen St., Braamfontein 2017, Johannesburg, South Africa, kathryn.chu@joburg.msf.org. (2009-08-12)
      Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a humanitarian organization that performs emergency and elective surgical services in both conflict and non-conflict settings in over 70 countries. In 2006 MSF surgeons departed on approximately 125 missions, and over 64,000 surgical interventions were carried out in some 20 countries worldwide. Historically, the majority of MSF surgical projects began in response to conflicts or natural disasters. During an emergency response, MSF has resources to set up major operating facilities within 48 h in remote areas. One of MSF strengths is its supply chain. Large pre-packaged surgical kits, veritable "operating theatres to go," can be readied in enormous crates and quickly loaded onto planes. In more stable contexts, MSF has also strengthened the delivery of surgical services within a country's public health system. The MSF surgeon is the generalist in the broadest sense and performs vascular, obstetrical, orthopaedic, and other specialized surgical procedures. The organization aims to provide surgical services only temporarily. When there is a decrease in acute needs a program will be closed, or more importantly, turned over to the Ministry of Health or another non-governmental organization. The long-term solution to alleviating the global burden of surgical disease lies in building up a domestic surgical workforce capable of responding to the major causes of surgery-related morbidity and mortality. However, given that even countries with the resources of the United States suffer from an insufficiency of surgeons, the need for international emergency organizations to provide surgical assistance during acute emergencies will remain for the foreseeable future.
    • Surgery in low-income countries during crisis: experience at Médecins Sans Frontières facilities in 20 countries between 2008 and 2014

      Trelles, M; Dominguez, L; Stewart, B (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015-04-16)
      The global burden of trauma and surgical conditions fall disproportionately on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).(1, 2) Inopportunely, developing countries are least equipped to provide essential surgical care.(3) Consequently, LMICs have a significant burden of unmet surgical needs.(4) When these fragile health systems are disrupted by conflict, a natural disaster or an epidemic the volume and quality of surgical care decreases even further. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    • Surgical Burn Care by Médecins Sans Frontières-Operations Center Brussels: 2008 to 2014.

      Stewart, B; Trelles, M; Dominguez, L; Wong, E; Fiozounam, H T; Hassani, G H; Akemani, C; Naseer, A; Ntawukiruwabo, I B; Kushner, A (Wolters Kluwer, 2015-08-27)
      Humanitarian organizations care for burns during crisis and while supporting healthcare facilities in low-income and middle-income countries. This study aimed to define the epidemiology of burn-related procedures to aid humanitarian response. In addition, operational data collected from humanitarian organizations are useful for describing surgical need otherwise unmet by national health systems. Procedures performed in operating theatres run by Médecins Sans Frontières-Operations Centre Brussels (MSF-OCB) from July 2008 through June 2014 were reviewed. Surgical specialist missions were excluded. Burn procedures were quantified, related to demographics and reason for humanitarian response, and described. A total of 96,239 operations were performed at 27 MSF-OCB projects in 15 countries between 2008 and 2014. Of the 33,947 general surgical operations, 4,280 (11%) were for burns. This proportion steadily increased from 3% in 2008 to 24% in 2014. People receiving surgical care from conflict relief missions had nearly twice the odds of having a burn operation compared with people requiring surgery in communities affected by natural disaster (adjusted odds ratio, 1.94; 95% confidence interval, 1.46-2.58). Nearly 70% of burn procedures were planned serial visits to the theatre. A diverse skill set was required. Unmet humanitarian assistance needs increased US$400 million dollars in 2013 in the face of an increasing number of individuals affected by crisis and a growing surgical burden. Given the high volume of burn procedures performed at MSF-OCB projects and the resource intensive nature of burn management, requisite planning and reliable funding are necessary to ensure quality for burn care in humanitarian settings.
    • Surgical care for the direct and indirect victims of violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

      Chu, K; Havet, P; Ford, N; Trelles, M (2010-04-14)
      ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The provision of surgical assistance in conflict is often associated with care for victims of violence. However, there is an increasing appreciation that surgical care is needed for non-traumatic morbidities. In this paper we report on surgical interventions carried out by Medecins sans Frontieres in Masisi, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo to contribute to the scarce evidence base on surgical needs in conflict. METHODS: We analysed data on all surgical interventions done at Masisi district hospital between September 2007 to December 2009. Types of interventions are described, and logistic regression used to model associations with violence-related injury. RESULTS: 2869 operations were performed on 2441 patients. Obstetric emergencies accounted for over half (675, 57%) of all surgical pathology and infections for another quarter (160, 14%). Trauma-related injuries accounted for only one quarter (681, 24%) of all interventions; among these, 363 (13%) were violence-related. Male gender (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=20.0, p<0.001), military status (AOR=4.1, p<0.001), and age less than 20 years (AOR=2.1, p<0.001) were associated with violence-related injury. Immediate peri-operative mortality was 0.2%. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, most surgical interventions were unrelated to violent trauma and rather reflected the general surgical needs of a low-income tropical country. Programs in conflict zones in low-income countries need to be prepared to treat both the war-wounded and non-trauma related life-threatening surgical needs of the general population. Given the limited surgical workforce in these areas, training of local staff and task shifting is recommended to support broad availability of essential surgical care. Further studies into the surgical needs of the population are warranted, including population-based surveys to improve program planning and resource allocation and the effectiveness of the humanitarian response.
    • Ten Years of Experience Training Non-Physician Anesthesia Providers in Haiti.

      Rosseel, P; Trelles, M; Guilavogui, S; Ford, N; Chu, K; Médecins Sans Frontières, rue Dupré 94, 1090, Brussels, Belgium. (2009-08-06)
      Surgery is increasingly recognized as an effective means of treating a proportion of the global burden of disease, especially in resource-limited countries. Often non-physicians, such as nurses, provide the majority of anesthesia; however, their training and formal supervision is often of low priority or even non-existent. To increase the number of safe anesthesia providers in Haiti, Médecins Sans Frontières has trained nurse anesthetists (NAs) for over 10 years. This article describes the challenges, outcomes, and future directions of this training program. From 1998 to 2008, 24 students graduated. Nineteen (79%) continue to work as NAs in Haiti and 5 (21%) have emigrated. In 2008, NAs were critical in providing anesthesia during a post-hurricane emergency where they performed 330 procedures. Mortality was 0.3% and not associated with lack of anesthesiologist supervision. The completion rate of this training program was high and the majority of graduates continue to work as nurse anesthetists in Haiti. Successful training requires a setting with a sufficient volume and diversity of operations, appropriate anesthesia equipment, a structured and comprehensive training program, and recognition of the training program by the national ministry of health and relevant professional bodies. Preliminary outcomes support findings elsewhere that NAs can be a safe and effective alternative where anesthesiologists are scarce. Training non-physician anesthetists is a feasible and important way to scale up surgical services resource limited settings.
    • Traumatic Injuries are the Main Indication for Limb Amputations During and After Humanitarian Crises

      Naidu, P; Dominguez, LB; Trelles, M; Chu, KM (Springer, 2021-01-15)
      Background Populations at risk during humanitarian crises can suffer traumatic injuries or have medical conditions that result in the need for limb amputation (LA). The objectives of this study were to describe the indications for and associations with LA during and after humanitarian crises in surgical projects supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Methods MSF-Operational Center Brussels data from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2017, were analyzed. Surgical projects were classified into (annual) periods of crises and post-crises. Indications were classified into trauma (intentional and unintentional) and non-trauma (medical). Associations with LA were also reported. Results MSF-OCB performed 936 amputations in 17 countries over the 10-year study period. 706 (75%) patients were male and the median age was 27 years (interquartile range 17–41 years). Six hundred and twenty-one (66%) LA were performed during crisis periods, 501 (53%) during conflict and 119 (13%) post-natural disaster. There were 316 (34%) LA in post-crisis periods. Overall, trauma was the predominant indication (n = 756, 81%) and accounted for significantly more LA (n = 577, 94%) in crisis compared to post-crisis periods (n = 179, 57%) (p < 0.001). Discussion Our study suggests that populations at risk for humanitarian crises are still vulnerable to traumatic LA. Appropriate operative and post-operative LA management in the humanitarian setting must be provided, including rehabilitation and options for prosthetic devices.