Surgeon Helps Volunteer Group Reach 20-year Milestone

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Helps Volunteer Group Reach 20-year Milestone

When oral and maxillofacial surgeon Louis K. Rafetto, DMD, traveled to Peru to donate his services last February, he became the 5,000th volunteer placement for Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) – helping the group mark its 20th anniversary.

Since its inception on August 1, 1986, HVO has worked to educate and train healthcare professionals and students across the globe. HVO has sent more than 3,600 highly trained and dedicated healthcare professionals on over 5,000 assignments to 43 countries. The group has also donated more than $18.4 million in textbooks, journals, teaching slides, computers and other related educational and medical equipment to its program sites. HVO volunteers have introduced new techniques in pain management, infection control, trauma care and rehabilitation, resulting in better patient outcomes and a significant reduction in deaths.

Dr. Rafetto is currently the chairman of both the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) Committee on Continuing Education and Professional Development and the Delaware Institute of Dental Education and Research. He is also a member of the American Dental Association and the Delaware State Dental Society. Dr. Rafetto has been a member of HVO since 1986 and volunteered three times prior to his most recent placement. He traveled to India in 1992, Colombia in 1996 and Cambodia in 2004. The AAOMS has been a sponsor of HVO since its establishment in 1986.

Reflecting upon his assignments with HVO, Dr. Rafetto noted, “Health Volunteers Overseas has provided me the opportunity to share my training and experience with healthcare providers in countries where challenges of limited resources and trained personnel are common. As a result of the people I have met and the experiences I have had, I will never see the world in the same way.”

“I am so pleased that Dr. Rafetto is our 5,000th volunteer placement!” said Dr. David Frost, chairman of HVO’s board of directors. “He is an outstanding example of a clinician teaching in developing countries. Dr. Rafetto is able to unite his personal technical skills with a deep desire to share his knowledge in classroom settings, clinical offices, and operating rooms to the benefit of students, doctors, and patients at the HVO sites where he has volunteered.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a global shortage of health workers. WHO estimates that at least 4 million health workers are needed to fill this growing gap. Without these important health workers, prevention and treatment of disease and advances in health care cannot reach those in need. Since its inception, HVO has worked to end this shortage of health workers in developing nations around the world. WHO cites Sub-Saharan Africa in particular is facing the greatest health challenge. HVO has programs in five sub-Saharan countries: Eritrea, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. While it has 11 percent of the world’s population and 24 percent of the global burden of disease, it has only 3 percent of the world’s health workers.

A private, nonprofit membership organization, HVO was founded to improve global health through education. HVO designs and implements clinical education programs in child health, primary care, trauma and rehabilitation, essential surgical care, oral health, infectious disease, nursing education, and burn management. In more than 25 resource-poor nations, HVO trains, mentors and provides critical professional support to health care providers.

The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), the professional organization representing more than 8,000 oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the United States, supports its members’ ability to practice their specialty through education, research and advocacy. AAOMS members comply with rigorous continuing education requirements and submit to periodic office examinations, ensuring the public that all office procedures and personnel meet stringent national standards.

SOURCE: American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

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