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Prof Kathryn Chu – Director Of The Centre Of Global Surgery – University Of Stellenbosch: Equitable Access To Surgery

This week on Womanity-Women in Unity, Dr. Amaleya Goneos-Malka talks to Prof. Kathryn Chu, who is a Professor of Global Surgery and is the Director of the Centre of Global Surgery at the University of Stellenbosch.

Prof. Chu specialises in colorectal procedures and is a general surgeon. Her academic journey began at Stanford University, where she earned her undergraduate degree. Following this, she pursued her medical degree and underwent residency training in general surgery at the University of California- San Francisco. She obtained a Master’s degree in Public Health and Developing Countries from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She currently holds positions as an adjunct professor at the University of Botswana’s Department of Surgery, serves as a Board member of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, and leads as the inaugural director of the Centre of Global Surgery.

The need for surgery is time sensitive. Unfortunately, many people around the world don’t have access to surgical care when they need it. According to a 2015 report from the Lancet Commission for Global Surgery two thirds of the global population i.e. five billion people don’t have access to safe, affordable surgical care and the majority lived in low- and middle- income countries. Global surgery concerns developing health systems so that people can receive surgical care when they need it.

Prof. Chu discusses some interventions to make health systems more equitable, specifically surgical access. These include policy reform, developing co-ordinated surgical plans, establishing more facilities, increasing the number of qualified personnel, upskilling people to perform specific procedures, integrating with indigenous health care practitioners.

A few of Prof. Chu’s former roles include working with the health and humanitarian organisation, Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without borders), who are renowned for operating in disaster and conflict zones. She also spent two years training surgeons in Rwanda, helping to rebuild their surgical training process. Through these experiences she recognised how useful surgeons are in under resourced regions.

Prof. Chu has a passion for her field and highly recommends medicine for anyone that feels a calling. She shares the responsibility and privilege that doctors experience in caring for people, who are sometimes at their worst and being a critical part of people’s lives. She also encourages women to retain their femininity; empathy and care makes people better doctors and surgeons.

Tune in for more.

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