November 4, 2014
For Immediate Release
Local physicians and volunteers Depart for Vocational Training trip to Africa
Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world, and access to health care is vastly different than in places like Canada. Closing the gap is what inspires a group of eight local Rotarians and 13 medical volunteers, including Dr. Stan Valnicek of Kelowna, to take a Rotary Vocational Training Medical team to Bahar Dar, Ethiopia between November 6th and 22nd. Dr. Valnicek takes on the role of medical director and lead plastic surgeon on the trip, with Okanagan Mission Rotarian Jean Bird as the Team Leader.
“To be able to bring these surgeries and expertise and this kind of care to Ethiopia and doctors, nurses and other medical professional on the ground in Ethiopia is truly trans-formative and sustainable”, says Valnicek. With nearly $85,000 in funding from the Rotary International Foundation, the team will teach and perform hands-on training with upwards of 80 to 100 patients from the Bahar Dar and surrounding area.
The trip is a partnership with Rotaplast Canada, based in Kelowna, which has evolved from providing strictly cleft palate surgeries and burn contracture repairs, to now responding directly to the need for a more sustainable model, including full surgical teams who are able to address other needs such as gynecology, as well as provide medical training on the ground in the countries where they volunteer. Rotaplast Canada teams have worked in countries including Ethiopia, India, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
“We are excited about the new direction Rotaplast Canada is taking in the area of education,” says Valnicek. “Training local health care providers in the regions that we work is what will make our volunteer efforts sustainable and most beneficial to patients and communities.”
It takes approximately 20 medical and non-medical volunteers for each mission. Included on the 2014 mission team is young plastic surgery resident, Dr. Sheena Sikora from the UBC Faculty of Medicine. “These are very specialized surgeries that most patients cannot otherwise receive in Ethiopia. I am thrilled to be a part of this mission,” says Sikora.
Since 2004 Rotaplast Canada has aided in delivering over 1,000 free surgeries, restoring hope to many who were ostracized and shunned for cleft lip and palates anomalies. Valnicek has been a part of the organization since inception and specializes in cleft palate surgeries and burn repairs. He has volunteered his time with seven Rotaplast missions.
Rotaplast Canada operates on the generosity of individual and corporate donors, as well as Rotary clubs in the Okanagan and Vancouver Island.
To follow the work of this medical trip, the group will be posting updates on their blog at www.rotaplastcanada.org.
About Rotary International Foundation
Rotary International supports Rotary clubs worldwide by coordinating global programs, campaigns, and initiatives.
The Rotary Foundation uses generous donations to fund projects by Rotarians and our partners in communities around the world. As a nonprofit, all of the Foundation’s funding comes from voluntary contributions made by Rotarians and friends who share our vision of a better world.
For more information visit www.rotary.org
About Rotaplast Canada
Rotaplast Canada changes lives by providing free reconstructive surgery to disadvantaged children and adults in developing countries with debilitating cleft lip and palate anomalies, burn injuries, and other disfiguring or disabling medical conditions, deformities that can lead to serious malnutrition, child abandonment and sever social disparagement. With the support of Canadian medical professionals and volunteers, we promote building local capacity by training local physicians and health professionals and promoting the development of sustainable and preventative programs.
For more information:
Jean Bird, Mission Director, Rotaplast Canada
John McCormack, President, Rotaplast Canada
Kathy Butler, Rotary Club of Kelowna