International Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association
Outreach Project to Bolivia 2015
Report on the Bolivia 2015 Outreach Mission
A delegation from AHPBA and IHPBA travelled to Cobija, Pando in a remote area in the North of Bolivia during June 2015.
The members of the delegation were O. Imventarza, E. Dixon, J. Lendoire, O. Gil, R. Oddi, S. Oks (anaesthesiologist), Angela Plante (nurse) and M. Gimenez.
This outreach mission was organized with the cooperation of the President of the Bolivian Chapter of the AHPBA, Dr. Renan Antelo.
Due to low frequency of flights to Cobija, the mission had to spend a night in Santa Cruz de la Sierra on the way there and again on the return journey.
Once in Cobija the following activities were carried out with the help of Dr. Antelo and the local organizer, Dr. Erik Burgos (President of the Surgical Society in Pando):
- Meeting with the Governor of the State of Pando and the Mayor of Cobija to gain support for the mission and start talks aiming at securing continuing training activities for medical staff (surgeons, anaesthesiologists, Intensive Care doctors; and nurses) after the Mission.
- Visits to two hospitals to discuss clinical cases and patient management with staff and residents.
- HPB surgeries at both hospitals, assisted by local doctors and using the materials that we had taken with us while making full use of the local infrastructure.
- Interviews with local television channels in order to inform the population of the purpose of the Mission, the reach of both Societies and OMS´ support.
- Lectures and case presentations at the Amazon State University (two whole days). The audience was made of advanced medical students, residents and staff from the City of Cobija and surrounding towns in Bolivia and Brazil (Cobija is on the Bolivian-Brazilian border in Amazonia).
Moreover, we made the best of our stopovers in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. With the help of the local Surgery Society, its President and the local organizer, Dr. Cristobal Duran, we gave lectures in Santa Cruz and discussed clinical cases, on which we later performed operations with the help of local doctors. We also run panels to update attendants on latest HPB pathology.
The team on the way to Cobija
Our welcome at Cobija airport and becoming honoorary guests of Cobija in Pando state
The auditorium and the conferences in Cobija
After the conferences
Before departing for Bolivia (country that I had visited before, having lectured in various cities) I had my doubts about what the mission would be able to achieve. I thought that the contribution we could make in such a remote area in a country with so many economic problems would be like a drop in the ocean. Today I can categorically state that I was completely wrong. I had never felt before (and that applies to all members of the Mission) that our presence was so positive.
During those few days we observed the incredible enthusiasm shown by the people there (students, doctors and nurses) and an amazing desire to improve and develop professionally. I am sure this desire for excellence will continue and intensify long after we get home.
Greetings from the South of America!
(Mariano E. Gimenez, MD, PhD.)
Our last night in Amazonia