When Fanuel Bellet, MD attended the 2018 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Annual Meeting, he was just five months from completing his residency at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC) in Moshi, Tanzania.
“I’ll be finishing my training in August,” Dr. Bellet noted during the meeting. “So from there, I’ll be moving to Haydom Lutheran Hospital, which is far from KCMC in a rural area, and I will be the only surgeon in that area.”
Dr. Bellet attended the AAOS Annual Meeting with funding from Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO)’s Wyss Scholarship for Future Leaders in Global Health. HVO is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving global health through the education, training, and professional development of health workers in resource-scarce countries. The Wyss Scholarship supports the professional development of emerging global health leaders from HVO project sites.
Underfunded health systems around the world face a high burden of disease and a scarcity of resources – medicines, staff, diagnostics, infrastructure, etc. – that limit not only access to quality care but also professional opportunities, such as leadership development, for health care providers. Continuing education and other professional development opportunities are vital both to sustaining and motivating existing health care providers and training future providers.
For more than thirty years, HVO volunteers have provided hands-on teaching and training to their overseas colleagues, increasing knowledge, improving skills and growing professional networks. In 2015, the organization launched the Wyss Scholarship to help nurture the next generation of global health leaders at HVO project sites. Also launched was the Warfield Scholarship for Anesthesia Professionals, which provides similar support for anesthesia care providers.
In a recent follow-up survey about his experience, Dr. Bellet commented that his experience as a Wyss Scholar serves him well in his new leadership position.
“Because of the exposure I got [as a Wyss Scholar], I learned how to be more organized,” wrote Dr. Bellet. “I have improved my leadership skills and have managed to organize how we work… [we] are operating on more patients now than the previous year.”
Through the Wyss and Warfield Scholarships, HVO has funded 43 educational activities for 38 health workers from project sites in resource-limited settings. These include educational conferences, observer-ships, and special skills trainings.
HVO’s Wyss and Warfield Scholars have noted improvements in their clinical skills and communication skills, as well as an increased awareness of their profession’s global role.
These opportunities have proved essential for providers training and working in resource-limited settings. Joining their peers in regional and international conferences provides opportunities to engage in excellence and bring new skills and knowledge back to their colleagues and students, expanding the quality and availability of care for patients in their communities now and in the years to come.
Strong leaders will help strengthen health systems, and strong health systems will lead to more patients served and more health crises avoided.