The development of a surgical mission in the Peruvian Amazon: a 15-year expedition
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Musculoskeletal disorders and injuries represent a substantial proportion of the global burden of disease. This burden is particularly prevalent in low and middle-income countries that already have insufficient health-care resources. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the vision, the history, the implementation, and the challenges in establishing an orthopaedic surgical mission in a developing nation to help address the epidemic of musculoskeletal trauma. Scalpel At The Cross (SATC) is a nonprofit Christian orthopaedic surgical mission organization that sends teams of 10 to 20 members to Pucallpa, Peru, a rural town in the Amazon, to evaluate patients with musculoskeletal conditions, many that require surgery. The organization employs 4 full-time staff members and has included over 400 medical volunteers in 32 surgical campaigns since 2005. SATC has provided approximately 8.1 million U.S. dollars in total medical care, while investing approximately 2.2 million U.S. dollars in implementation and overhead.Given the projected increase in trauma in low and middle-income countries, the SATC model may be increasingly relevant as a possible blueprint for other medical professionals to take on similar endeavors. This paper also highlights the importance of continued research into the effectiveness of various organizational models to advance surgical services in these countries.
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