In 2000 when Bruce began the project on teaching and training in the surgery and rehabilitation of patients with hand and upper limb injuries and conditions, there were only 2 partially trained hand surgeons for the Myanmar population of 55 million. Since then and over the last ten years MACF have trained eight surgeons.
There are now six surgeons trained in Hand Surgery and two Therapists trained in Hand Therapy for the whole of the country. There still however is a great need to improve the services for the primary and reconstructive care of patients with injured hands and upper extremities especially in district areas.
In March 2013, one of the frequent visits from MACF, able to distribute medical equipment, educational aids and cash to a combined value in excess of $100k to the poor rural hospitals in Burma.
Donations mainly came from the generosity of medical supplies company Medartis and other private donors , the Conolly’s were able to bring both their wealth of knowledge to these poor regions, hand out medical manuals translated into Burmese and distribute valuable surgical equipment too.
“The poor injured people in these parts of Myanmar could not afford the treatment we were able to bring them. So in a tangible way we really made a difference to their and their families lives. Very rewarding work,” Bruce said.
Joyce was able to provide lessons on midwifery and how to prevent infant mortality. She is well aware of the impact depression has on the community and has been involved in improving it’s management.
“On the next visit MACF will distribute more medical manuals and will teach another 50 or so nurses which will mean that in these remote areas the mothers and children receive a healthcare they wouldn’t otherwise receive” Joyce added.
To put the need of Myanmar into perspective there are currently around 1,100 orthopaedic surgeons operating in Australia of which 20% are hand specialists or one specialist hand doctor per 100,000 people. This statistic compares to 1 for every 10 million people in Burma. One to keep in mind the importance of the hand in Myanmar were most worked is actually done by hand.
MACF teaching has extended from Yangon to Mandalay and now to Magway at the hospitals and universities.