Photo Credit: Anthony Aldave

Global Surgery Initiative

Once thought of as an extreme therapeutic intervention, surgery is now acknowledged by international health professionals as an essential component of basic health services. The mix of outstanding clinical service, research, and teaching, along with its diversity and atmosphere of progressive thinking, puts the UCLA Departments of Surgery and Anesthesia in an excellent position to contribute to advances in global health, innovation, and international health leadership. The Global Surgery Initiative was launched with support from Dr. Ronald Busuttil, as part of the UCLA Center for World Health, established by Dean Eugene Washington. The mission of the Global Surgery Initiative parallels that of the UCLA Center for World Health with a surgical focus.


To improve the surgical health of people and communities throughout the world, with our partners, through education, research, and service.

To guide the next generation of surgical leaders to use their vision, talent, and commitment to transform the practice of world health and make a sustainable difference.


UCLA Surgery partnerships and programs around the world.


Global surgery service projects spearheaded by UCLA faculty members.


Educational opportunities in global surgery for UCLA medical students and residents.


Research opportunities in global surgery for UCLA medical students, residents, and faculty.


Examples of research fellowship and other scholarship programs for professionals interested in global surgery.


News and other media reports on UCLA Global Surgery Initiative activities.


Websites of key organizations working in the global surgery arena.


  • In September 2016, a UCLA surgical team completed their annual obstetric fistula repair and training camp in Uganda. The nine-member team provided surgeries for women suffering from fistula, as well as offered training to local providers and medical trainees in the techniques of fistula repair. The team, led by Dr. Christopher Tarnay, Division Chief of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at UCLA, operates under the non-profit organization, Medicine for Humanity, or MFH. Through a partnership with Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), UCLA team members are playing a critical role in improving access to high-quality maternal health care and gynecological surgery in Uganda.

    Obstetric fistula is a childbearing injury in which holes are formed between the mother’s birth canal and digestive tract, leaving the woman chronically incontinent. Fistula can occur as a result of obstructed labor, when a baby becomes trapped in the birth canal, necessitating an emergency Cesarean section. Because of limited access to health care facilities in remote areas, emergency C-sections are often unavailable, giving women no other option than to endure sometimes life-threatening labor. Prolonged obstructed labor can have severe consequences for both the mother and baby. The baby can die due to lack of oxygen and the mother can develop fistula, which often leads to chronic medical problems and social ostracism.

    For the past 7 years, Dr. Tarnay has regularly been taking surgical teams to Uganda for fistula repair “camps,” two-week long concentrated collaborations between MFH and MUST to provide and improve access to fistula care. Any woman who needs fistula repair is provided the surgery, as well as all transportation, housing, food, medical support, and postoperative rehabilitative services, free of charge.

    This year, the UCLA/MFH team performed 64 fistula surgeries and 20 Cesarean sections, while concurrently training local Ugandan residents in Urogynecology. By allocating a significant portion of time towards the training and education of local providers, MFH takes a sustainable approach to improving access to fistula care.

    Apart from capacity building and the provision of surgical care, the work of MFH is also deeply linked to a more holistic, emotional aspect of healing. “The team is able to do so much more than just repair the physical aspects of fistula,” said Dr. Tarnay. “This operation can be life changing. Being able to witness these women leave the hospital smiling and with hope perhaps for the first time in years brings tremendous gratification.”

    For more information on UCLA’s efforts with Medicine for Humanity, visit

    [Reposted from University of California News]

    UCLA Center for World Health Founding Director Thomas Coates has been named director of the University of California Global Health Institute.

    Coates succeeds the institute’s founding director, Dr. Haile Debas of UC San Francisco, who will become director emeritus after playing a pivotal role in launching the systemwide institute in 2009 and guiding its growth.

    Coates, who previously served as the institute’s co-director, will be responsible for providing executive strategic, operational and resource management leadership for the institute.

    In addition, Dr. Craig Cohen, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCSF, and Dr. Patricia Conrad, professor and associate dean for global programs at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, will serve as the institute’s co-directors. Cohen previously served as co-director of the institute’s Center of Expertise on Women’s Health and Empowerment and Conrad served as co-director of the Center of Expertise on One Health. In their new role, they will work closely with the director to manage the institute’s operations.

    The institute, which works to train the next generation of global health leaders and accelerate the discovery and implementation of transformative global health solutions, also named six new board members:

    • Dr. Timothy Brewer, professor of medicine and vice provost of interdisciplinary and cross-campus affairs, UCLA;
    • Nancy Burke, associate professor of public health, UC Merced;
    • Matthew Guthaus, associate professor of computer engineering, UC Santa Cruz;
    • Juliet McMullin, associate professor of anthropology, UC Riverside;
    • Brad Pollock, professor and chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences, UC Davis; and
    • Steffanie Strathdee, associate dean of global health sciences and Harold Simon Professor and chief of the Division of Global Public Health, UC San Diego.

    The board, which is responsible for providing guidance to the institute in overall policy and direction in meeting organizational goals, is chaired by Mary Croughan, executive director of the Research Grants Program Office at the UC Office of the President.

    It is our great pleasure to present to you the UCLA Center for World Health (CWH) 2015-2016 annual report.  CWH is actively engaged in 70 countries around the world. Faculty members of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA partner with international colleagues on over 200 educational, research, and service programs. Key CWH regional strategies include initiatives in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia; some of our successes in each region over the last year are described in detail in the report, which covers our 2015-2016 fiscal year.

    This last year was a pivotal one for CWH, as we concentrated our efforts on building bridges and investing in people and partnerships that support our vision of healing humankind through shared knowledge and compassion.

    Working in some of the world’s most resource-challenged settings such as Malawi and Mozambique, we focus on capacity building to improve medical education, clinical care, and scientific expertise and work to address the most pressing health challenges.

    Societal demand for improved health outcomes in many countries has opened additional windows of opportunity for CWH to further collaborate with our partners in middle- and high-income countries. Such partnerships can accelerate learning and innovation, both in the U.S. and in partner countries.

    Aside from these focal areas, our annual report features a Letter from the Director, a section on the expansion of our Global Surgery Initiative, and illustrates the work of some of the students and faculty of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Our international residency programs and the first annual Los Angeles Global Health Conference, hosted by CWH around the theme of “Transdisciplinary Perspectives in Global Health” are also highlighted in this report.

    Our website provides additional information on the projects of our many global faculty and partners that we weren’t able to feature in this report. The UCLA Center for World Health would like to thank you all for your continued interest and support. Please feel free to contact us should you be interested in learning more about CWH.


    Tom Coates_Signature

    Dr. Thomas J. Coates

    Tom Rosenthal

    Dr. J. Thomas Rosenthal


    15-16 Annual Report Cover