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Clinical Outreach

Dr Asrat Mengiste, Regional Manager for Amref Health Africa’s Clinical Outreach Programme, has worked for Amref Health Africa for over 10 years, dedicating his life to transforming access to surgical care across East Africa. By training medical officers at the same time as performing surgeries, the Ethiopian surgeon has helped to transform the face of surgical care across East Africa.

Clinical Outreach has been a founding principle of Amref Health Africa's since our inception in 1957 - when we first began taking essential medical services, particularly surgical services, to remote District level hospitals.

Amref Health Africa's East African Clinical Outreach programme has now grown to cover over 155 hospitals in 9 countries across East and Central areas of Western Africa where full surgical teams visit to take consultations, perform surgeries and train local healthworkers in everything from pre- and post-operative care to minor surgical procedures.

Dr Mengiste is one of only two full time surgeons on the Clinical Outreach programme, working with volunteers from teaching hospitals in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda who cover over 25 specialist disciplines from gynaecology to ophthamology. Surgeons in training are also supported by the programme in accompanying these specialist volunteers on outreach missions to develop their experience.

Key achievements so far:

  • Over 1,200 cleft palate repairs performed last year, 400 of which Dr Asrat performed himself
  • Over 6,586 hours of training provided to 8,756 doctors, nurses, lab technicians and physiotherapists last year
  • Ten years ago there were only 2 plastic surgeons in the whole country; mobilised surgical centres carrying out training has now transformed the availability of plastic surgery
  • 15,000 plastic surgery operations performed every year in Ethiopia, compared to 100 cleft lip/palate operations ten years ago

In 2007 Dr Asrat Mengiste was awarded the first ever Smile Train Hero award to recognition for his dedication and passion for helping children with facial disfigurements.
In 2011, Dr Mengiste was made president of the Pan African Association of Cleft Lip and Palate (PAACLP), an appointment that recognises the huge contribution that he has made to the surgical care in Africa.