Global surgery, especially academic global surgery, is of tremendous interest to many surgeons. Classically, it entails personnel from high-income countries going to low- and middle-income countries and engaging in educational activities as well as procedures. Academic medical personnel have included students, residents, and attendings. The pervasive notion is that this is a win–win situation for the volunteers and the hosts, that is, a pathway to bilateral academic success. However, a critical examination demonstrates that it can easily become the bold new face of colonialism of a low- and middle-income country by a high-income country.
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At this juncture, it is important to mention that surgeons from LMICs play a very important role as teachers and mentors not only to their own trainees but also to trainees from HIC institutions. In fact, this is how the true bilateral nature of partnerships is reflected. Such mentorship helps trainees from HICs acquire the surgical and research skills relevant to developing countries that HIC trainees are not used to (or cannot get access to in their HIC setting). Surgeons from LMIC institutions can provide structured support and assessment to the HIC trainees to the extent that some training programs in the United States have already started recognizing LMIC attachments as integral part of the training. As an example, one of the coauthors of this article served as a mentor to surgical residents from HIC setting between 2016 and 2019 to the LMIC setting. As another example, faculty at the University for Global Health Equity, an LMIC partner for the HBNU Fogarty fellowship, will be the mentors for US-based fellowship applicants interested in Surgery in Rwanda.
- Global surgery