Dr. Daniel DeUgarte (left) and Dr. Vanda Amado with patients in Mozambique.
Daniel DeUgarte, MD ’97 (RES ’05), is associate clinical professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in general surgery at UCLA and in pediatric surgery at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 2013, he earned a Master of Science in clinical research and a Global Health Certificate from UCLA. Dr. DeUgarte now serves as co-director of the Global Health Education Programs, one of the major initiatives of the UCLA Center for World Health. In 2010, he was invited by Lee Todd Miller, MD, vice chair for education in the Department of Pediatrics and director of the Global Health Education Programs, to join a Partners for Pediatric Progress trip to Mozambique to help provide training in pediatric surgery. Dr. DeUgarte has returned to Mozambique seven times since his first trip.
When I first traveled to Mozambique, in 2010, there were only 10 local pediatricians and one general surgeon dedicated to the care of the country’s 10-million children. Inspired by the work that Dr. Miller was doing in pediatrics, I decided to devote a portion of my career to making a sustainable impact on pediatric surgical care in Mozambique by helping to build local capacity. The rewards of my training and proctoring trips over the years have been immense. As an example, I helped a young local surgeon, Vanda Amado, MD, perform her first repair of a complex cloacal birth defect. Dr. Amado and I were so grateful for the opportunity to help this beautiful infant girl and her family. However, without reliable anesthesia support and postoperative care, our operations have not always been successful. Operating in Mozambique has also required that we creatively find solutions to address limited supplies. For example, we have utilized a 50-cent thermostat wire and a $200 nerve stimulator in place of a commercial $10,000 muscle stimulator to evaluate the anal sphincter complex in our repairs of anorectal malformations. These experiences also have given me perspective on excessive healthcare costs and wastefulness in the United States. I now have a much-better appreciation for how the Mozambican physicians have adapted to the local environment, and I am invigorated to contribute to developing the health system as a whole. Now, there are two trained Mozambican pediatric general surgeons and three additional ones in training. The partnership I established has expanded to include multiple exchange programs, as well as quality-improvement and research activities. Our support has come from Mending Kids International, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Sun West Mortgage Co., Inc., and from the generosity of other philanthropic sources.
With the establishment of the UCLA Center for World Health by A. Eugene Washington, MD, MSc, vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, it is an incredible time to be involved in global health at UCLA. When I was a medical student, global-health opportunities were not readily available. Now, students can competitively apply for supplemental funding to participate in research and clinical experiences abroad. I have no doubt that our students return home with more humanism, a richer cultural sensitivity and an even-greater commitment to working with underserved populations here in our own backyards — and I’m proud to contribute in this arena as well.
For more information about the UCLA Center for World Health, go to: worldhealth.med.ucla.edu