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Episode 0: Founders Episode

Welcome to Global Scalpels! Find out a bit of who we are and why we started this podcast.

Episode 1: Dr Rishi Rattan

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to practice surgery in a combat area? Or what about during a mass-casualty event such as the Boston Marathon bombings? Join us as we talk about Kurdish controlled Iraq, medical education, disaster management, and even workforce management in some of the most well-known organizations in the world including the White House, US Army, United Nations, and local governments.

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Episode 2: Gerald Mwapasa

“Sent.” “Delivered.” 65 billion messages are sent on WhatsApp every day. That is 29 million messages every minute. Perhaps one of the most used social media platforms around the world, Gerald Mwapasa and his team at SURGAfrica are using WhatsApp for a whole new purpose – to create a network of surgical consultation across Malawi. They are using the app to connect non-physician Clinical Officers in remote areas with surgeons around the country. Malawi currently only has approximately 10 orthopedic surgeons in the whole nation. Using non-physician Clinical Officers significantly increases the country’s ability to provide care. SURGAfrica helps to create a robust network to increase quality of care as well as to create an educational resource for providers (surgeons and otherwise) to refer in future cases. You don’t need to be a clinician to be involved in global surgery or make a difference. This fight needs a whole army with diverse backgrounds. Come explore the world of tech, security, and networks on this exciting episode!

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Episode 3: Dr Mahmoud Hariri

Practicing surgery is difficult in normal conditions. Even more challenging in resource-constrained situations. But what about when you are actively being targeted by your own government? You have several aliases and multiple SIM cards, but your not a spy, you are just trying to provide medical care to those in your war-torn city. Filling tires with sand to create shock absorbers on the roof of the hospital. Operating in the hospital underground corridors to be protected from missiles. For some this may seem like a movie, for Dr Mahmoud Hariri, this is his daily. Join us as we talk about his experience of surgery during the Syrian conflict, the scholars at-risk program, and his recently published article in JAMA Surgery!

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Episode 4: Dr Zineb Bentounsi and Dr Parisa Fallah

Being able to make a difference in global surgery as a trainee can seem difficult. Even unachievable. “What skills do I have to offer?” “Do I have a voice in global surgery – and if so, how can I make it heard?” These questions can be hard to answer but that didn’t stop our two guest on this episode. If you are a global surgery trainee, you will definitely want to tune in as we explore the creating of the two largest student-founded and student-run global surgery student groups around the world! With over 5,000 members and 48 national working groups of InciSioN and more than 2,500 members and 60+ national chapters of GSSA these two organizations have changed the face of trainee involvement in global surgery. Learn about the origins of both of the organizations, their founders, what it takes to start an international platform, and how students can get more involved in global surgery!

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Episode 5: Dr Nobhojit Roy and Dr Monali Mohan

110 million people. This is twice the number of the entire population of the United Kingdom, 10 times the population of Greece, and more than 1,000 times the population of Tonga – and that is just one state in India. Welcome to Bihar and the amazing team at CARE India that works here. Join us as we investigate health systems strengthening through the lens of one of the original Lancet Commissioners for Global Surgery representing Southeast Asia as well as from physicians working on the ground in district hospitals to develop ground-level solutions. Both Indian born, foreign-trained, our guests speak about their decision to return back to India in an effort to fight brain drain, tackle international networks, and expand funding for their important mission.

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Episode 6: Dr Jacquelyn Corley

Approximately half of the world is female… yet they are often invisible. In fact, only 12% of neurosurgery residents in the United States are female. Although, great strides have been made for women’s rights we still have a long way to go – particularly in global surgery where the conversation is largely absent. A conversation, that our guest today has greatly changed. Listen in as we discuss the power of media and how to harness that power to bring awareness to critical issues such as gender equality. In this episode, we explore behind the scenes of writing for some of the largest media organizations in the world including JAMA, Forbes.com, and the Huffington Post as well as the establishment of key resources in global surgery to better support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 5. Advocacy, challenge, and empowerment are key themes in our road toward equitable surgery for all – regardless of the presence of XX or XY chromosomes.

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Episode 7: Anant Jani

Diversity is the key to innovation and new solutions. Global surgery is a field that needs people from any and all backgrounds to tackle this issue. So how did a PhD researcher in immunology at Yale become a major force for good in global surgery? What does role does value-based healthcare have when working in low-resource settings where healthcare isn’t even present let alone “value-based” and how do social determinants of health affect access to surgery around the world? The answers to these questions and more are found in today’s episode. Join us as we talk about air conditioners as a social determinant of health – something you may have never considered before. We also look at the power of adapting solutions to local situations to create lasting and meaningful change no matter where you are. Come explore outside the operating room and into the other aspects of global surgery that play an important role in preventing people from needing a scalpel at all.

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Episode 8: Walter Ulrich

Hundreds of millions of shipping containers are transported around the world annually. Some of them are filled with cars, toys, or cosmetics. Others are filled with perishable food items or electronics. As the world shut down in the wake of COVID-19, we all saw what happens when supply chains are disrupted. Supermarket shelves full of toilet paper and canned goods disappeared seemingly overnight. Genuine fear arose as resources became restricted. Supply chain is a big issue. In many countries around the world, it isn’t that their medical supply chain is disrupted – it is that it doesn’t exist. You can’t even get the medical device you need. Medical bridges is disrupting this cycle and creating new supply chains to support the needs of hospitals around the world who lack access to important medical devices and surgical supplies. Think x-ray machines, dialysis pumps, and life-saving ultrasound imaging all donated, renewed, serviced, and then shipped in big shipping containers to distant hospitals in need of these technologies. Partnerships with local NGOs for servicing these machines keep them up and running for years to come. Tune in as we talk about ethical issues around serving in developing countries, medical waste, and supply chain channels as we explore entrepreneurship and business principles to create new opportunities in global surgery.(Click the image to learn more)

Episode 9: Dr Jean Christophe

Every day 830 women die from pregnancy or childbirth related causes – that is over 330,000 per year. That is 830 mothers. 830 sisters. 830 wives. Lives lost, and families shattered. Sometimes these deaths come as a result of surgical complications, other times due to unsanitary conditions or infection, and still more due to severe bleeding that could easily be prevented if they had adequate access to healthcare. In addition to these 330,000 women, another 5.8 million die due to trauma related causes such as road traffic accidents. This is more than the total number of deaths that result from malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS combined!

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Episode 10: Andrew Bonneau

250 degrees Fahrenheit. 121 degrees Celsius. This is the temperature at which surgical equipment is sterilized. Pressured steam envelops each and every instrument cleansing them of impurities and killing microbes. This whole process is vital to the practice of safe surgery and is done in the confines of an autoclave. In order to create these temperatures and the resulting steam, the autoclave machine needs power – and lots of it. So what happens when the power goes out? Or what happens when the generator runs out of gas? No power, no heat. No heat, no surgery. Join us as we talk with Andrew from Noor Medical about their new “Hybriclave” which enables surgeons and technicians to sterilize medical equipment even in areas of unstable electrical supply by harnessing the power of the sun, thermal heat, or traditional electricity.

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Episode 11: Dr David Chong

In many regions of the world, clean water, electricity, medical facilities, and medical personnel are limited or nonexistent. Healthcare infrastructure is lacking and access to needed supplies can be highly variable. But what if you could have a state-of-the-art hospital and a whole crew of medical professionals delivered directly to

the areas that most need it? This is where Mercy Ships comes in.


The ocean is a vast resource that covers 70% of the earth’s surface. It brings life to many through fishing and other important resources. For this reason, more than 40% of the world’s population live within 100 miles of a coast and 90% of the of the trade between countries happens via sea. Mercy Ships is able to harness the power of the ocean, and the close proximity of communities to the coast, to deliver high quality healthcare around the world. They also train local healthcare providers and seek to improve the medical infrastructure of the areas they visit. They even stock their ships with a supply of vehicles so they can reach remote areas!


Join us as we talk with Dr Chong about what it is like to be “stationed” on a medical ship, the concepts of universal citizenship and diagonal development, and how to be “a fibroblast vs a cancer cell”.  You won’t want to miss this episode!

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Episode 12: Dr Dominique Vervoort and Dr Nabeel Ashraf

As a country, creating a national long-term strategy to address barriers in your health system is a daunting task. Where do you start? What do you do if you fail? And how to you ensure long-term longevity. It is your responsibility to bring together key stake holders with different backgrounds including: health economics, surgery, business, advocacy, health policy, and so much more! This is where an NSOAP comes in. A National Surgical, Obstetric, and Anesthesia Plan (or NSOAP) is a national strategic plan that uses 6 pillars to strengthen the surgical system as a whole to expand surgical access across the country. The NSOAP is embedded in a national health plan and headed by the Ministry of Health of each country. Join us in this special episode as we talk with two guests about the creation of the NSOAP of Pakistan as well as the power of social media. With more than 500 million Twitter tweets being tweeted daily, how can you raise your voice to bring attention to global surgery? Global Surgery consists of people from different sectors (tech, advocacy, surgeons, and more), different surgical specialities, and different counties, one of the miracles of social media is that there is very minimal barrier to joining and your reach can be much wider than you ever thought possible. The #globalsurgery movement has made huge strides in brining together the global surgery movement. How are you going to leverage your social media to make your mark? And what are the potential changes you could influence? You won’t want to miss this episode!

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Episode 13: Jim Ansara (with Guest Host Rolvix Patterson)

You are sitting at your desk with a paper and pencil. You draw a rectangle on the paper and start looking at it from different angles. It represents the layout of an operating room. You draw a larger box around the inner one. This represents the whole perioperative area. What do you put inside these boxes? How many water stations do you need? Hand washing basins? What about oxygen pipes or electrical outlets? Or back-up generators for the unstable electrical system in the low-resource setting? These are all things Jim Ansara and his team and Build Health International (BHI) are trying to tackle – creating low-cost but robust surgical facilities in places like Haiti. Listen in as we discuss the complex planning that is required for the design, construction, and maintenance of surgical facilities, infrastructure within health systems, and creating sustainable teams (both construction teams and surgical teams!). We are sure you will learn a lot about what goes on behind the scenes in the creation of medical structures and things you should think about as part of the surgical workforce using these facilities – we know we did!

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Episode 14: Dr Nadine Hachach-Haram

Imagine you are sitting in a medical tent in a combat zone. You are the military surgeon and a soldier is brought to you with injuries from a bomb blast that you have no idea how to treat. This wasn’t in your training. You have no idea what to do. How do you save this soldier’s limb – or even more importantly – this soldier’s life? Now imagine you are in a rural, remote hospital. A new patient is brought to you with a congenital condition you have never seen before. While you are a surgeon and had extensive training, this is beyond your expertise. They are clearly suffering and their daily life impeded. Do you turn them away? Do you let them suffer the rest of their life? Using the power of artificial intelligence (AI), a team of passionate and dedicated individuals headed by Dr Nadine Hachach-Haram are seeking to make these situations a thing of the past. With even just a small tablet strapped to the side of the operating table, with their technology, surgeons can now use intraoperative video calling to get guidance on unfamiliar cases or to get mentorship and training from experts around the world.

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Episode 15: Dr William Bolton and Dr Noel Aruparayil

Laparoscopy is a major breakthrough in surgery. By using gas to inflate the abdomen, surgeons are able to drastically increase their visibility and thus can work through very small incisions to do major abdominal surgeries. The benefits are numerous including smaller scars, quicker recovery, and shorter time to return to work (which decreases lost wages). The problem? It requires a constant supply of carbon dioxide gas to be pumped in.


While this is usually not a problem in a high-resource setting, how do you do this in a low-resource context where even electricity is often unavailable? No gas, no problem? This was the thought by Noel Aruparyil and William Bolton. Conventional laparoscopy would never reach rural areas, but by designing a system which would work without gas, it could be a bridge to get healthcare workers trained and patients benefitting from this important technology.


 Join us as we talk about innovation in this vital procedure and the process of medical technology as a whole!

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Episode 16: Dr Mamy Lalatiana Andriamanarivo

Delivering care in rural areas is one of the hardest challenges of global surgery. Access to necessary medications is difficult and limited, but access to surgery is even harder, forcing many to travel hours on muddy roads through public transport to seek care. Even still, these are the lucky ones. Many never even make it out. Today about 15% of people live in rural areas around the world. In Madagascar however, over 60% of the population lives in a rural area, thus creating unique challenges in access to surgery.


As the minister of health for Madagascar, our guest today built dozens of new district hospitals, redirected funds, and even utilized helicopters to expand their reach. A physician himself, he understands the rural barriers and was able to advocate for change in health systems from within the government. Join us as we learn more about Madagascar and the importance of clinicians in non-clinical settings and the impact they can make.

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Episode 17: Dr Godfrey Sama

There are many ways to make a difference in people’s lives. Some people do that through medicine. Others through technology. And even others through public health. For our speaker this week, he started as a clinician and has transitioned to a public health specialist. Global surgery requires an army – people from every discipline to come together to create change. One cannot be the master of all trades and expect to get the kind of results that a team of specialists would. One is not a surgeon by him or herself. It requires an interdisciplinary team and people committed to interpersonal communication to make miracles happen.

That is exactly what Dr Godfrey Sama is doing through the MUHAS-UCSF Cancer Collaboration. They are defining new care pathways and challenging the difference between advisory versus advocacy work. We also discuss his work within global paediatric surgery, revealing congenital abnormalities are responsible for almost half a million deaths/year, with 97% of those in LMICs. Join us as we talk about ensuring true collaboration including up-skilling and giving local ownership to both research and data analysis.

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Episode 18: Marc DuBois

hu·man·i·tar·i·an: (h)yo͞oˌmanəˈterēən/ = concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare.


We often put humanitarian aid as an ideal – but what does it truly mean to be a humanitarian? Is it volunteering one’s time or financial resources to another? Is it only during times of crisis or disaster, or is it at any time? What are the ethics behind the aid and how can the fundamental human right of dignity be ensured or at least strived for?


As a field of endeavor, humanitarian aid is unique in many ways. Crucially, it is a sector in which the consumers of the aid are not the people paying for the aid. Traditionally a consumer buys a product and then decides whether they want to buy it again based on the price, quality, and availability of other options. The consumer may even choose to return the product if they are unsatisfied. Humanitarian aid recipients hold no such power; no say as to whether the assistance or services being offered meet their most important needs or even helps them. Aid may also arrive with harmful consequences. This is often due to difficult issues such as paternalism and colonialism that has dominated much of the field for decades. In fact, many of the actions that we took 10 years ago, may not sit well with us today. In this episode we discuss some of the legal and ethical issues behind humanitarian work, power dynamics, and accountability to local people. Join us as we talk with Marc DuBois about his two decades of work with Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), maintaining the political neutrality and independence of humanitarian action, and the many challenges to human dignity in the most inhumane places on Earth.

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Episode 19: Dr Pierre Marie Woolley

In a matter of seconds, your world can change. When a 7.0 magnitude earthquake ripped through Haiti in 2010, no one was prepared for the aftermath that would occur. Over a quarter-million people dead, and with 52 aftershocks, the country continued to be hit over and over. As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere at the time, the country’s infrastructure was brought to a halt and the process of rebuilding was painful. Despite the immense amount of aid that was brought in, efforts were often uncoordinated and lacked local partnerships which impeded the impact made. But as our guest today says, we shouldn’t wait for an opportunity for change, we have to create it – and he is doing just that through medical education, virtual technology, and expansion of the trauma surgical workforce through training of future Haitian surgeons leaders. Join us as we speak with Dr. Pierre Marie Woolley, an orthopaedic trauma surgeon who was on the front lines of providing surgical care during one of the worst disasters ever seen in his country and how the lessons learned in 2010 have been applied in 2020 in the disaster of COVID-19.

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Episode 20: Dr Kee Park

Home to 25 million people, North Korea is a world of its own. Insights into the country’s healthcare system are scarce at best, let alone surgical care. This is not the case, however, for Dr Kee Park, a neurosurgeon working with Harvard’s Program in Global Surgery and Social Change and the World Health Organization to support local surgeons in their efforts. Tune in as we discuss innovative, cost-effective computed tomography designs unique to North Korea, neurosurgery in Ethiopia and Cambodia, geopolitical healthcare diplomacy, as well impending funding cuts to the largest global health entity in the world – the WHO.

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Episode 21: Professor Papaarangi Reid


Colonialism has affected almost every major indigenous population around the globe.  Some civilizations have been affected by settler colonialism with large-scale immigration of foreign individuals to overtake land and property that did not belong to them. Other civilizations have experienced more exploitative colonialism where natural resources and native labor have been extracted and even forcibly removed.  Still, others have been affected by foreign political influence that, while not under direct rule, are so intimately affected that they are effectively ruled by a foreign crown due to resulting policies and decisions. Others have experience more than one. Click the image to learn more.

Episode 22: Dr Edward Fitzgerald

Lean methodology is a core principle that focuses on minimizing waste in order to maximize value. In other words, when an organization is lean, they have created the most value possible for both the producer which can then be passed onto the consumer. In order to do this, there needs to be a shift from optimizing individual processes to optimizing entire process streams that transverse multiple products and services. This eliminates waste in a wide range of areas rather than a single isolated point. This concept is widely known in business and management, but can be limited or absent in certain healthcare settings.

As a general surgery-trained consultant with KPMG and Lifebox Foundation, our guest today has been instrumental to applying this principle in research. With the advent of the internet and growing global connectivity, the ability to collaborate on a broad range of issues and reduce redundancies have expanded dramatically. Research abilities are no exception.

As one of the founders of the SuRG Foundation, he has changed the face of medical research through harnessing the power of teamwork and is now helping to ensure equitable research partnerships across HIC and LMIC leaders. Join us in this exciting episode with healthcare leader Dr Ed Fitzgerald as we discuss lean methodology, disrupting healthcare research with collaboratives, funding, and the golden thread of change.

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Episode 23: Professor Mamta Swaroop



The term “global surgery” is extremely broad and elusive. “Academic global surgery” even more so. It can be hard to feel like one is making a difference, particularly when there are so many injustices all around us. However, global surgery is everywhere! It is anywhere that there is health inequity. Join us in this inspirational episode as we talk with Dr. Mamta Swaroop about how you can make a difference, your power, and how just one drop can make a ripple that forever changes the lives of those around you.



Episode 24: Dr Andres Rubiano



Trauma injury kills more people every year than HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis (TB) combined. Despite this, it often takes a backseat when receiving research support, clinical funding, and policy change. Trauma disproportionally affects low- and middle-income countries with its far reaching effects beyond the walls of the hospital. In fact, in some countries like Colombia, severe traumatic injuries are sustained from many mechanisms including landmines, guerrilla and paramilitary warfare, homicide, and vehicular accidents. [Click the image to learn more]

Episode 25: Dr Katayoun Madani and Dr Joffre Guzman

The power of students can be immense. In a team, each person brings something to the table and has different strengths to offer. Students offer the benefit of time, passion, and drive. Mentors offer the benefits of experience, teaching, and context. The combination of student and mentor can bring both to new heights. In the world of global surgery, students have banded together to push the movement forward. One such initiative has been the InciSioN Global Surgery Symposium (IGSS) – an annual student-led global surgery conference, and the largest of its kind in the world! Join us in this powerful episode as we explore the inner-workings of IGSS2020, all that it took to make this virtual conference a reality, and the topics of teamwork, inequity, organizational behavior, and overcoming language as a barrier with two of the convenors of IGSS2020 – Dr. Katayoun Madani and Dr. Joffre Guzman! [Click the image to learn more]

Episode 26: Professor Salome Maswime (w/ Guest Host Daniel Lowe)

Health systems are sick. Around the world gaining access to necessary surgical treatment can be difficult due to inadequate healthcare infrastructures but also due to imbalanced care across demographics. Women across the globe often struggle to gain equal access to healthcare and maternity services – and not just access, but high-quality care. The issue extends far past the surgeon in the operating room. It is the break-in health systems, the procedures being performed, and the surgical outcomes. This is where Dr Salome Maswime and her team are trying to chart a new course for maternal health. Join us as we talk about the importance of playing a role in healthcare access, regardless of how big or small that may be. [Click the image to learn more]

Episode 27: Cecilia Chitayi



Performing surgery requires many different parties. Each needs to come to the operating room prepared to excel in their field but also work collaboratively with the other parties. Unfortunately, the field of surgery has the potential to be surgeon-centric and important collaborators like anesthesia fail to be discussed. In this episode, we seek to better highlight the field of anesthesia through the lens of Cecilia Chitayi – a nurse anesthetist practising in Kenya. (Click the image to learn more)

Episode 28: Dr Lina Roa and Lotta Velin

“Climate change is the single greatest threat to planetary and human health of our time. It is not a distant future concern, but a process that is occurring here and now.” – Roa L, Velin L, et al.

While increasing access to surgical services worldwide is vital to human life, doing so in a environmentally friendly manner is essential to sustainable scaling and longitudinal growth. Join us in this earth shattering episode as we discuss with Dr Roa and Dr Velin about their recent paper in the Lancet and how to use solutions from all six building blocks to be advocates for a two-way relationship between surgery and climate change. You won’t want to miss this! (Click image to Read More)

Episode 29: Garreth Wood

Vaccination efforts around the world have been extremely successful – saving millions. They have been particularly helpful in pediatric populations. While vaccinations for children are important, if they are not followed by adequate access to surgical care, many of these children will still die premature.

Currently part of the bottleneck of decreased access for pediatric populations is the lack of operating rooms as well as lack of surgeons trained to care for this vulnerable population. This is where Garreth Wood and KidsOR are trying to help, by not only building additional pediatric operating rooms but also helping to train additional local pediatric surgeons to expand access in many countries around the world. It is an investment but one that certainly has immense benefits – both economically and for people’s lives. (Click image to Read More)

Episode 30: Chidiebere Ib‪e‬

Many textbooks are currently dominated by picture portrayals of patients with caucasian skin. This lack of diversity not only misrepresents the overall patient population, but can also be misleading. Our host today is working to change that. Meet Chidiebere Ibe; a Nigerian medical illustrator working to increase visibility of patients with non-caucasian skin in the medical literature and textbooks. Join us as we talk about how he hopes to use medical illustration to make neurosurgery more attainable for African medical students, how mentorship helps to overcome barriers, and how equitable illustrations can help both patients and trainees understand conditions better! (Click image to Read More)

Episode 31: Dr Adriana Serna

Checklists have been instituted in many sectors to help streamline processes. They are there to make things easier and bring peace of mind by eliminating forgotten aspects of a procedures. Surgery is no different. The surgical checklist is vital to the delivery of safe surgery around the world, however, checklist implementation involves changing minds, operating room culture, and the dreaded word – paperwork. Surgical checklists save lives.  Join us in this incredible episode as we talk with Dr. Adriana Serna about initiatives to institute surgical checklists in Colombia and how to empower members of the surgical team to make this life saving practice a routinely used item! (Click image to Read More)

Episode 32: Dr Christina Dejean Soray

Healing takes time. To heal means to regenerate, to align and to gain strength. Wound healing, in particular, highlights the power of the human body in times of crisis – manipulating its resources and cells to restore homeostasis. But what happens when that fails? What happens if it’s a traumatic wound that gets infected, fails debridement? Here creativity and innovation rise from the ashes as Hattian and International surgeons and engineers were able to push the boundaries of function and cost for low-resource settings. Join us in this incredible episode as we talk with Haitian orthopaedic surgeon Dr Christina Dejean Soray on her low-coast “Turtle VAC”. (Click image to Read More)

Episode 33: Dr Jim Johnston (w/ Guest Host Daniel Lowe)

Humans are inherently social creatures. Medicine, in particular, highlights the value of taking input from multiple specialities and healthcare professionals to optimise patient care. Why shouldn’t we collaborate with experts from around the world? Intersurgeon.org aims to establish a new paradigm to ensure the standard of clinical care is high no matter the setting. By harnessing the knowledge of over 600 specialities worldwide, this free service drives the pursuit of equitable and safe surgery. Join us as we dive deeper into the work of Paediatric Neurosurgeon Dr James “Jim” Johnston, co-founder of Intersurgeon with Guest Host Daniel Lowe as we discuss how to facilitate regional LMIC collaboration and the value of ‘coral reef’ networking. (Click image to Read More)

Episode 34: Alison Fussell and Drew Reynolds

Undergoing surgery is an extremely multifaceted process that includes physical, mental, and social aspects to make it successful. Often when we talk about surgery, we focus on the physical and neglect these other important parts. This is where social work can bring all the pieces together to include the biopsychosocial approach to surgical care – an inter-disciplinary model that connects these three important patient factors. Join us as we talk in this episode about how Drew and Alison are helping to tackle this issue for pediatric populations around the globe! (Click image to Read More)

Episode 35: Dr Paola Fata

Findings from studies published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) report that more than 45% of resident physicians experience burnout and the numbers are continuing to climb. If that number didn’t surprise you, then you are well aware of the psychological stress and struggles that doctors and other healthcare workers experience on a daily basis – particularly during this recent pandemic. As a result, more than 1 in 10 physicians said they had suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately these thoughts often become action with suicide deaths among physicians is 250-400% higher than similar counterparts in other occupations. These suicides lead to more than 1 million patients losing their medical expert in the US alone – leaving a substantial number of underserved and vulnerable populations without healthcare services.


As these statistics show, mental health is a major issue among physicians and our speaker today is attempting to help alleviate that. Join us as we talk with Dr Paola Fata about protected spaces (including protected nap spaces!), increasing positive feedback and value, community ties, and helping to bring ourselves back to center in safe environments (Click image to learn more!).

Episode 36: Professor Lakhoo

Children are one of the world’s protected populations. Indeed, they are the very make up of our future as a race. They bring new life, ideas, and opportunities we can only dream of. Unfortunately, not all children around the world have equal opportunities to contribute to this future. In 2019 alone, more than 5 million children under 5 years died from preventable and treatable causes – many of which are due to lack of surgical access. While there are many initiatives to help combat these alarming findings, many projects are condition specific (e.g. clubfoot, cleft palate, etc.) or have teams that work in silos from other parties that may benefit. They lack a “we” or “us” mentality and rather an “I” phenomenon. To help address this issue, the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery developed The Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery (GICS) in 2016. Join us today as we talk with Professor Kokila Lakhoo, a paediatric surgeon at Oxford, as she shares with us her insights into global collaboration as past president of GICS. We also explore the importance of trainee programs, advocacy, and training true doctors that have no borders. (Click image to Read More)

Episode 37: Dr. Bukola Oluyide & Charity Kamau

This episode covers a debilitating and life-threatening condition that disproportionately affects those in developing countries around the world. Affecting more than 150,000 people annually, Noma is a fatal infection of the face and mouth with the mortality rate approaching more than 90 percent and the morbidity/sequelae are permanently debilitating. Noma is a result of acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (infection of the gums) which can rapidly spread and destroy other facial tissues. This can lead to struggles with eating, talking, and even breathing for affected individuals – if they even survive. Not only does this affect their activities of daily living, but it also affects their social interactions; often becoming shunned or excluded from societies and families due to the severely disfiguring and unpleasant aftermath. Further, the social and economic deprivation and political insecurity are staggering. A simple internet search before this episode will put the condition in context.  Despite the high fatality rate and crippling aftermath, noma is a sorely neglected disease that can be prevented with multidisciplinary treatment. Join us in this episode as we speak with Dr. Bukola Oluyide and Charity Kamau as we discuss Noma as a condition, efforts that are being done to tackle it, and the sociological/anthropological aspects that remain following disease in its many forms (Click image to read more).

Episode 38: Dr. Fabio Botelho

4 hours? 7 hours? 10 hours? Look around you. Chances are you have a cell phone, tablet, or computer within reach (you are reading this after all). The number of hours an individual spends on their electronic devices each day continues to rise every year. With mobile devices reaching almost every corner of the earth, access to technology has never been easier. So how can we use this technology to do good? And how can we harness it specifically for surgery?

The term “virtual reality” is often used but it’s not something I know a lot about. Simulating an experience in which the user can interact with a created world around them is the very heart of virtual reality. This is what Dr Fabio Botelho is trying to tackle – using virtual reality to teach paediatric trauma care.

Episode 39: Dr. George Dyer

Imagine if you arrived at your house and there were dozens of Amazon boxes at your door. None of which you had ordered. You open them only to find random items – a hairbrush, t-shirts that are way too big for anyone in your household, a toaster, and ice cream that is now all melted since you didn’t know it was there and should be refrigerated. Further, this doesn’t happen just once. It happens over and over again. Each time with a new set of items, all of which you didn’t order and may or may not even need. The items start piling up and boxes are everywhere. Despite your best efforts to keep up, stuff just accumulates and clutters your house. The items are unusable to you and impeding your access to your own space and effectively just becoming trash.

Join us as we talk with Dr. George Dyer, an orthopedic surgeon/professor at Harvard Medical School and orthopaedic advisor for Partners in health, about trash (disguised as donations) and the need for need-directed donations, education, and effective surgical support. You won’t want to miss this!

Episode 40: Priyanka Naidu and Zachary Collier

Join us as we speak to Dr. Priyanka Naidu and Dr. Zachary Collier about hackathons, developing mobile applications for surgical education, and global reconstructive surgery. They are both Global Surgery Fellows with Operation Smile. Priyanka is an aspiring pediatric reconstructive surgeon from Cape Town, South Africa. Her research focus has been on education and training and geospatial mapping of cleft care providers, to name just a few of her interests. Zachary is a plastic and reconstructive surgery resident at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. His research focuses include resource-conscious solutions in burn treatment and facilitating community-based prevention programs.

Episode 41: Dr. Marci Bowers (and Guest Host, Ayla Gerk)

Dr. Bowers is a pelvic and gynaecological surgeon with more than 32 years of experience and is a pioneer in the field of Gender Affirming Surgery. She is the first surgeon with a transgender history and the first woman to perform Gender Affirming Genital surgeries worldwide. She has now performed almost 4,000 Gender Affirming Surgeries. She has also been a strong advocate for initiating transgender surgical education programs at many institutions. Dr. Bowers is the World Professional Association for Transgender Health President-Elect. In this episode, we’ll be speaking about her story as well as her gender-diverse surgery both nationally and worldwide!

Episode 42: Joel Bervell

Lights, camera, ACTION! With the continued evolution of social media and technology, content creators can share their talent widely throughout the world without the need of a stage crew, make-up artist, costume designer, scriptwriter, director, etc. etc. etc.; in fact, you can do it from your very own living room with your iPhone! While it doesn’t take an army to create the content, it can be just as powerful and impactful as anything on the big screen. Many of these posts can reach tens of millions of people in a matter of hours and have the power to create movements (think the ice bucket challenge), shape culture, influence fashion, and even affect finance. All from the press of a button. Our guest today is doing just that. With more than 40,000,000+ impressions across TikTok and his other social media platforms, Joel Bervell has become an “influencer turned medical educator” who is tackling health disparities, racial bias in medicine, and global youth empowerment like no one else. Join us on one of our most interesting episodes to date as Joel shows us the man behind the screen, his views on how anyone can become a content creator for a cause, and how to challenge what we think we know. You won’t be disappointed!

Episode 43: Dr. Stephen Orr

In commemoration of Pride month this month, we wanted to highlight a population within society, but particularly in the field of global surgery, that is often left behind. The LGBTQ+ community has experienced high rates of discrimination and ostracization resulting in higher rates of mental illness, suicide, and even drug use. Further, LGBTQ+ patients encounter a very unique set of barriers within healthcare globally. For example, in many countries, significant others/partners of LGBTQ+ are not recognized as legal unions. This lack of legally legitimate status can pose issues when healthcare proxy decisions need to be made. Further, LGBTQ+ may have decreased number of children due to society and logistical pressures not experienced by heterosexual counterparts. This leads to a lack of access to needed elder care in regions where children and offspring predominantly handle elder care. Lastly, access to “luxury treatments” such as hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery is extremely limited around the world leaving many transgender patients without access to potentially life-saving medications and surgeries.


It is the job of clinicians to treat all patients fairly and with respect. Fair, does not necessarily mean the same, however. Recognizing how to interact with, respect, and support people of all backgrounds is essential as human beings. Putting ourselves in the shoes of other people brings new perspectives and insights. Join us in this special episode with Dr. Steven Orr as we highlight implicit bias within the surgical realm, the promotion of diversity and inclusion in surgery, and how to encourage the health and safety of all patients – regardless of sexual orientation or gender.

Episode 44: Dr Anita Makins

New year, new episode! After a brief pause, we are excited to be back to share with you more about the amazing initiatives happening around the world and major concepts within the field of global surgery. The episode today is focused on a topic relevant to every listener because we all have one  – mothers! Women’s health is at the very core of medicine with the unique overlap of the creation of life with also the prevention of death. Our guest host specializes in several unique aspects of this cornerstone of healthcare, namely support for access and dissemination of contraceptive postpartum (the PPIUD project) as well as advocacy and education about the practice and effects of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C). Working to create safe, culturally competent change around this practice is extremely charged – politically, culturally, and even religiously. With more than 200 million women subjected to FGM/C worldwide, there is a great need for education on harm reduction, teaching about women’s health/menstrual health, and so much more. Join us as we speak with Dr Anita Makins about advocacy at all levels with bidirectional teaching and education for the prevention of harm.

Episode 45+ --> To be Announced! Stay Tuned!

If you or someone you know is doing something in global surgery you feel should be highlighted in Global Scalpels, we would love to hear from you! We welcome guest interviewers and new ideas. Pop over to our contact page, send us an email, or message us on any of our social media platforms. We would love to hear from you!