FROM THE UROLOGY CARE FOUNDATION PRESIDENT: The Humanitarian Grants Program Delivers

By: Harris Nagler, MD, FACS | Posted on: 01 Feb 2022

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

In early 2021, the Urology Care Foundation proudly launched a new humanitarian initiative designed to support the humanitarian efforts of AUA members. Endowments were created with funds donated by our many generous donors and matched by the AUA. In its first year, we were able to provide funds for 2 individuals of the 17 who applied. We are proud to recognize and share with you the accomplishments of our first 2 grant recipients.

In November of 2021, Dr. Una Jeanie Lee from Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Urology, Seattle, Washington served as teaching faculty with the nonprofit organization Medicine for Humanity, a group she has been volunteering with for more than a decade. This year, after careful COVID-19 risk mitigation planning, 9 team members including urologists, urogynecologists, anesthesiologists, nurses and surgical technicians successfully completed the annual Medicine for Humanity surgical educational program at MUST (Mbarara University of Science and Technology) in Mbarara, Uganda. Forty-five surgeries were performed with Ugandan and American surgeons working side by side. In addition to the surgical care provided, the education of Ugandan and American residents and fellows was one of the program’s main goals. “I’m most proud of being part of an organization that has committed to empowering the surgeons of Mbarara and building their capacity to help women with obstetric fistula,” said Dr. Lee. “Medicine for Humanity and MUST [have] established the second Urogynecology Fellowship in East Africa, and now their team of trained surgeons and nurses does outreach fistula surgery in other parts of Uganda with unmet needs. We help teach the Ugandan doctors to ‘fish’ and these doctors are teaching others to ‘fish,’ and these surgeries have downstream positive impacts as changing women’s lives lifts up families and communities.”

The Urology Care Foundation has recognized the importance of supporting programs and initiatives that lead to sustainable progress in establishing equity of care and access. The proverb, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” continues to hold true.

Dr. Lee goes on to say, “I’m humbled by their resilience and their courage in the face of hardship. They each taught me about gratitude, what really matters in this world, and how connected we all are.” The Foundation support was invaluable for this program, given the multifactorial challenges related to COVID in low-income countries and the tremendous need for surgery, education and training on urological and urogynecologic women’s health and repair of childbirth injury.

Also in November, Dr. David Rapp, University of Virginia and founder of Global Surgical Expendition, led a surgical trip to Belize where combined mission teams treated 37 patients and provided 31 surgeries and procedures to patients coming from all regions of the country. In an effort to reach more patients, separate surgical teams were organized to provide focus on both general urology and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgeries. Care was provided at Corozal Community Hospital in the Corozal region. A total of 8 members participated in the trip, including surgical, anesthesia and nursing professionals. Combined, Global Surgical Expendition teams performed surgeries to correct vesicovaginal fistula, benign prostatic hyperplasia, urethral stricture disease, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence and bladder stones, as well as provided surgical training to local Belizean surgeons and gynecologists. Also as part of the trip, more than $1,000 in surgical supplies was provided to facilitate future surgery by Belizean surgeons. Dr. Rapp commented, “Our group of medical volunteers continues to be both humbled and thankful for the support we have received to conduct our ongoing surgical trips. The work of the team during our most recent mission included treatments of urogenital fistula, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, prostrate obstruction, urethral strictures, and numerous other debilitating illnesses. We are truly excited about continuing to provide care and develop the surgical infrastructure in Belize during future missions.”

The Urology Care Foundation is on the move with this new humanitarian component of our vision and mission, and these trips exemplify how the Foundation is becoming stronger through the dedication and vision of volunteers, in this case with international horizons. We are excited to say in 2022 we will be offering 7 humanitarian grants. For more information, visit UrologyHealth.org/Humanitarian.

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