We might take for granted that when we get sick, we can go to a hospital with a whole staff of doctors and the latest medical equipment.
But that's not the case in other parts of the world. In some countries, there's no such thing as a minor surgery, because they don't have very many trained surgeons.
Stormont-Vail trauma doctor Christopher Bandy is trying to change that. He recently used his vacation to visit the West African country of Cameroon.
Dr. Bandy said while some areas of Africa do offer a clean environment and have anesthesia, in some hospitals, the only other resources are basic lab testing. He says in most hospitals, there is no CT scanner, there is no MRI, and there is no radiation therapy that's easily accessible.
Plus, there are few surgeons. Dr. Bandy says, in Topeka, there are several surgeons just in this community. By contrast, parts of Africa, he says, have one surgeon for every one million people.
That's why Dr. Bandy, who also has surgical experience in the military, took two weeks vacation in February and, through Global Health Outreach, signed up for a mission trip with the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons. He and another surgeon worked at a hospital in Cameroon so African doctors could get surgical training.
Dr. Bandy says the situation isn't a quick fix where you go to an emergency and respond. He says training the African surgeons will affect generations of Africans all over the continent. He says the scholarships the doctors receive require them to return to their communities and set up hospitals and operating rooms.
In two weeks, Dr. Bandy and his colleague performed 60 operations, eight of them cesarean section. Where C-sections are often routinely scheduled in the U.S., in Cameroon, it's a major emergency event. Dr. Bandy says health education is also needed. He estimated a third of the patients he operated on were HIV positive.
Above all, Dr. Bandy says, health care professional or not, such missions are a way all people can make a difference. He says it's rewarding to heal people physically and spiritually.
"I feel like I'm being blessed more than I can help or bless anybody there," Dr. Bandy said. "It's extremely rewarding."
The Stormont-Vail Foundation helped provide funding for Dr. Bandy's trip. His trauma colleagues also helped out. He took a similar trip to El Salvador a couple years ago.
For more on the Global Health Outreach and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, go to www.cmdahome.org.