Mission: Mozambique

Mission Facts

  • Location: Maputo, Mozambique

  • Population: 1,240,000

  • Dates: 08/20/2016 - 08/30/2016

  • Surgeons: Dr. David Kulber

  • Focus: Plastics & Burns

  • Complexity: Very High

  • Training: Very High

  • Average Mended: 40

Mission Brief

Where in the World
Mozambique is located northeast of South Africa on the Indian Ocean. It is a nation of 21 Million people, 14 million of which are children. A former Portuguese colony, the nation gained its independence in 1975. As a result, the majority of the Portuguese population suddenly deserted the country, erasing public service and infrastructure. Once a destination for wealthy South African travelers and globetrotters, and known for its breathtaking coastline, Mozambique fell into a civil war between 1977 and 1992. A million lives were lost and this beautiful country was devastated. For over twenty years, Mozambique has been struggling to rebuild its infrastructure and replenish the ranks of medical and educational professionals. To complicate things, the recent discoveries of vast natural gas fields has infused the nation with enormous amounts of cash, none of which seems to be immediately earmarked for pediatric health care. However, Mozambique is determined to regain a care system, and so Mending Kids is working to train the few native doctors in Maputo.

The Children
As a result of extreme poverty, young children are often left unattended for long periods of time while parents leave home to seek a subsistence lifestyle. Young children are often left to care for even younger siblings and babies. Since most heating and cooking is done over an open, indoor fire, it is common to see young patients show up with massive, scalding, third degree burn wounds in the winter months of June, July, and August. If they survive, their wounds often go untreated for days to months.

The Mission
The current burn surgeries offered at the Hospital Centrale in Maputo, Mozambique often lead to amputation rather than reconstruction, due to the disfiguring and scar tissue buildup. The shortage of supplies often have these children waiting months for their surgeries. With the leadership of Dr. David Kulber of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, our annual Mending Kids mission to Mozambique tries to mend these children while also training the only local pediatric plastic surgeon, Dr. Celma Issufo, in advanced surgical techniques and proper post-op care.

To hear about the Mending Kids Mozambique Mission from Dr. Kulber himself and how he is using Google Glass technology to improve surgical care abroad, follow this link to The Doctors show: http://thedoctorstv.com/videos/google-glass-for-virtually-guided-surgery

This is the first ever surgical mission that anyone has ever used Google Glass for, and we are proud to use them to better the medical practices in developing countries.

Progress and Goals
Working in Mozambique and operating out of the HCM, we have gained an important understanding on how to better train the local surgeons and medical staff more effectively in future missions, given their severe lack of supplies, equipment limitations and thirst for specialty basic training.

Our goal in laying a foundation for future missions to the HCM would be to have a specific training focus on fundamental plastic surgery training to reconstruct acute burn wounds, the seventh leading pediatric cause of death in the country (AIDS and Tuberculosis being the top two). We have partnered with ReSurge International in order to be able to send missions up to four times a year to provide more continuous, shoulder-to-shoulder training with Dr. Celma Issufo.

Our hope is to make great strides at self-sustainment in burn treatment in Mozambique while making many more of these surgeries available to desperate children, all while gaining the trust of local surgeons and empowering them to provide these procedures confidently.

Ideally, and hopefully in the near future, the government will see the need and be encouraged to build a dedicated pediatric surgery ward so that more children may have quicker access to surgery, rather than having to compete with the medical needs of the adult population. Only through awareness and positive results from missions may this goal become a reality.

Interested Volunteers
Non-surgical team volunteers are limited as this is a Micro-Team Mission, and there is currently a waiting list. If you are interested in volunteering, review our FAQ section (click the Get Involved tab, then Mission Volunteer button) and then contact molly@mendingkids.org. The team fee for this mission is $5000 and will require a deposit of $1000 to hold your spot.

Karan A, Amado V, Vitorino P, Kulber D, Taela A, DeUgarte DA. Evaluating the socioeconomic and cultural factors associated with pediatric burn injuries in Maputo, Mozambique. Aug 2015. Pediatric Surgery International.

Mission Map