Dr. Chi Y. Chung (left), reviews a CT scan with PAACS residents Drs. Segni Bekele (center) and Daniel Gidabo (right) at Myungsung Christian Medical Center. Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Chi Y. Chung
In July 2012, Chi Y. Chung, MD, FACS (UCLA residency in general surgery, 1996-2004), resigned as assistant chief of surgery at Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center to serve as assistant program director of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) in Ethiopia. His responsibilities include training general surgeons at the Myungsung Christian Medical Center (MCM) and teaching at the newly opened Myungsung Medical College (MMC) in Addis Ababa.
If you believe that there is a physician shortage in the United States, you must consider the ratio in the rest of the world. In Ethiopia, there is one physician for approximately 35,000 people. In rural areas, only one surgeon may be available for more than 2-million people. This problem is exacerbated by the "brain drain" of medical graduates from Africa.
Since 1996, PAACS has been a small but effective response to the surgical-care deficit in Africa. Through Bible study and American-based surgical training in their home environment, all 20 PAACS graduates are still serving the needy. Another 40 residents are currently in training, with the goal to train 100 African surgeons by the year 2020.
I was asked to volunteer with PAACS to open a new training program at the MCM. Saying yes meant selling our home in Orange County, raising funds for our mission and moving with our two children to Addis Ababa. My wife and I believed that this calling was the culmination of our professional, spiritual and cultural experiences in the United States. As Korean-Americans, we have the cultural awareness to navigate the unique mix of nationalities at the MCM, better known as the "Korean Hospital" in Addis Ababa.
I am grateful for my UCLA residency and career at Kaiser Permanente, which gave me a desire to be involved in surgical education and medical missions.
For more information on PAACS, go to: paacs.net