Michael Gross, MD
Michael Gross, MD
Urology · Cleveland, OH

Surgical Mission and Workshop in Dakar, Senegal

May 11th
Dakar, Senegal

Project Description

The trip will consist of a 9-day residency at the Hopital de Grand Yoff in Dakar Senegal performing urologic surgery for the underserved people of Senegal (see below). In conjunction with the procedures, we have organized educational workshops for the local surgeons and staff to share tips and techniques such that our impact may extend beyond just the patients we see while we are on-site.

IVUmed's surgical mission trips offer a unique opportunity to combine direct patient care with sustainable capacity building in underserved communities. Through their "Teach One, Reach Many" motto, these trips aim to provide life-changing surgical interventions while empowering local healthcare professionals to deliver quality urological care long after the mission concludes.

IVUmed's surgical mission trips strive to make a lasting difference in the lives of patients and healthcare professionals in underserved communities. The combination of direct patient care and surgical capacity building creates a ripple effect, improving access to quality urological care for generations to come.

Population Served

The Hopital de Gran Grand Yoff in Dakar, Senegal is a 273 bed hospital whose encatchment area not only includes Dakar and the surrounding suburbs but all of the "interior" and "West-African Sub-Region" for the country. Moreover, this is one of if not the only center with Urologic subspecialty care available. Through partnering with urologists at this clinic we have planned for a host of surgeries for their most complex and refractory cases that would otherwise have prolonged suffering from their ailments. These include obstetric fistulae from prolonged labor, urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, urethral diverticulae and a host of other more general urologic conditions such as BPH, urethral stricture etc.

Many of the conditions above primarily afflict women and a focus of our trip will be to treat these patients specifically through our expertise in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery as a subspecialty within Urology. There is a paucity of access to such specialized surgery and care within this community for these women who are historically underserved even relative to the local population. Rates of obstetric fistulae are higher in this Africa and Senegal specifically because of difficulties in access to care leading to prolonged laboring.

Expected Impact

Urinary dysfunction can be particularly stigmatizing and disabling for the women of Senegal who also experience monumental barriers to identifying options for these issues and ultimately receiving care. It is our mission that showing these women that there is yet hope for their plight might encourage a grass-roots movement of education for their friends and neighbors to pursue care. Moreover, through our work educating the local urologists in our surgical techniques, it is our hope that they can continue to provide high-level care as more patients present to the clinic after hearing of its successes. In this way, our work may carry forward far beyond just the individual patients we will reach while in the country. As a part of the cultural exchange, relationships with the local urologists at the clinic will obviously continue indefinitely after such a meaningful experience through the discussion of difficult cases, emerging research and evolving techniques.

On a personal level, this being my first medical mission, I hope to form a strong foundation for future trips. I am quite confident I will be bitten by the "bug" for this kind of humanitarian work (and hopefully no other virulent insects). The success of this trip would undoubtedly spur me on to plan another and another to maximize the impact we as US physicians can make on the underserved both at home and abroad. Beyond my own ambitions, this would also be an experience to share with my colleagues and encourage them to join me on a future trip and begin to plan their own. I appreciate the committee's consideration and thank them for their time.

Trip Photos & Recap

The people of Senegal have a singular word that defines their approach to life and to each other - "Teranga." This core value loosely translates to "good hospitality." That hospitality was immediately on display when arriving to the Grand Yoff hospital in the capital city of Dakar. Despite only having corresponded briefly over email, we were greeted warmly by our hosts and thanked profusely for making the journey though we had yet to see a single patient.

Over the next week, we worked hand-in-hand with the local urologists and residents to collaborate on a full spectrum of disease complexity - from the routine to the otherwise hopeless. We learned together from these cases and took extra time to facilitate the education of both the current and future surgeons many of whom are pictured above. They will undoubtedly have continued these efforts long after we returned to the US. I was particularly struck by the trust put in us by these surgeons and by extension, their patients. To let a stranger from a far away land perform surgery on some of the most personal anatomy takes exceptional courage and belies a deep bond between the local physicians and their patients.

From the first day on-site I had already started to plan for my next trip. Learning the challenges of the local hospital through resource scarcity or antiquated technology (all our radiology was on physical film!) presents new opportunities for innovation and targets for fundraising. I have a much better sense of what this hospital needs for being able to visit in-person and enter the trenches with those doctors stepping up for their community. I think this experience has certainly inspired a lifetime of future trips and I am so grateful to the foundation for its support of humanitarian work.


IVU is committed to making quality urological care available worldwide. In fulfilling this mission, IVU provides medical and surgical education to physicians and nurses and treatment to thousands of children and adults.