A medical humanitarian organization is helping to reverse Africa’s brain drain by building hospitals and training African doctors to become specialists in pediatric surgery. At the same time, CURE International says it wants to fulfill the dreams of millions of disabled children who want to lead normal lives.
CURE International says, “There are 125 million poverty-stricken, physically disabled children worldwide who live with little or no hope of a cure.” It says, “Helplessness is a constant feeling.”
As a faith-based, non-profit organization, CURE says it “focuses on excellence in medical care, compassion, training, and in the quality of equipment and facilities.”
Dr. Scott Harrison is founder and CEO. He says, "When I first began doing medical work in Africa in the mid-1980’s, I recognized that children who were disabled really had a very difficult time getting medical care. There are so many acute and critical needs for children’s care that even when they’re admitted to a regular hospital they rarely are able to access the resources of that hospital because of being bumped off the OR (operating room) schedule or because of the other emergency needs that occur. So, our hospitals are designed to bring curing and care to children who are disabled. And surprisingly, about 40 percent of those children can be restored to a very productive life."
The approach CURE International uses is to build hospitals in areas lacking specialized care.
He says, "Well, our first hospital was in Kenya. That opened in 1998. Then we opened in Uganda a year and a half later. Our largest hospital is in Malawi. And we’re opening in January a smaller hospital in Ethiopia. Outside of Africa we have hospitals in Honduras and the Dominican Republic and in Afghanistan. And we just completed all the arrangements for our next hospital, which will be in Zambia."
Dr. Harrison says CURE has been successful in training local doctors to become specialists.
"We started off in the beginning with a model, which would require a doctor from the First World, who be able to serve both as both someone who set the standards and also taught the national doctors how to achieve those standards. In many cases the national doctor hasn’t been able to reach those standards only because he doesn’t have the equipment and instruments and various things that you need to give quality care made available to them. But sometimes they just never have been exposed to it as well," he says.
Over the last few decades, medical and other professionals have been leaving Africa in large numbers. They’re not only seeking better working conditions, but fleeing political instability or conflict. Dr. Harrison says his organization tries to create the conditions that will allow the specially trained doctors to remain in their countries.
"We have already, for instance, in Uganda brought a young Ugandan surgeon up to western standards and then moved him into a regional hospital. But we gave him the equipment necessary for him to do that. In Afghanistan, we top off the salaries of doctors, so in combination with the government we’re able to give them a living wage. Everyone likes to stay at home if they can. And so there’s a strong inclination by people if you can just make it pretty good we’re willing to stay because we have our family here, these are our roots and we feel comfortable there," Dr. Harrison says.
He says doctors treat many victims of burns, spinal deformities, clubfeet and birth defects. He says treating them not only contributes to the well-being of families but of the countries as well.