Who is Medicus Christi?
Medicus Christi was founded to provide modern and compassionate medical care to impoverished peoples of the Third World. Guided by the teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Holy Physician, our organization strives to bring highly skilled medical professionalism into poor countries where crucial medical and surgical expertise are desperately lacking.
In 2005, Father Kofi became pastor to a small parish in upstate New York where he met Dr. Joseph Marotta, an Orthopedic Surgeon who became inspired to share his knowledge and skills with the needy peoples of Africa. With the help and guidance of Father Kofi’s close friend, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, the idea which would eventually become Medicus Christi was born. The first medical mission project will be to organize an orthopedic treatment, rehabilitation, and training center in the Sunyani Diocese in the west African country of Ghana.
The people of Africa have suffered through many generations of civil strife and political upheaval as well as natural disaster. Many areas cling to outdated beliefs regarding illness and medical care. Compared to the wealthy, industrialized countries of the world, many African nations rank near the bottom of most economic indices, life expectancy, infant mortality, access to medical care and availability of even basic health necessities, nutritional needs, injury management techniques, pharmaceuticals and equipment required for the evaluation and treatment of both chronic illness and emergency care. As such, these people must persevere with little or no hope of recovery from many disorders and injuries we in the West find relatively easy to care for and cure.
One recent report found that, in particular, sub-Saharan Africa was particularly lacking in the management of trauma and orthopedic conditions. Some cases which should have presented acutely to local caregivers often surfaced weeks or even years down the line. Economic hardships and the need to prioritize funding by local governments has placed the care for non-threatening maladies far down the budgetary list. Cultural, traditional and economic factors force many to live with their problems until they can bear their deformities and sufferings no longer. Patients who do present for care are often disappointed by long waiting times and inadequate treatment.
An article by a former orthopedic surgeon at the Ghana Medical School noted that between 1974 and 1997 only four orthopedic surgeons had been trained in his country. Another report lamented the limited access to orthopedic services and woefully low number of orthopedic surgeons in Ghana in particular. It is estimated that there are currently only 15 trained orthopedic surgeons across the country, or roughly one for every 1.5 million people.
Several recent humanitarian groups have donated their time and efforts to bring improved medical care to Ghana. Specifically, orthopedic educational programs have been sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and the Orthopedic Trauma Association. Teams of surgeons performing various orthopedic procedures have made trips from the New York City area and Europe though the efforts of FOCOS, Austrian Doctors for the Disabled and Motec Life UK.
As important and helpful as these trips have been, their impact on the long term health of these suffering people is limited. Ghana and many other suffering countries of the Third World desperately need a lasting, growing medical presence that will not only work, “in country,” for a short period, but establish a lasting clinical presence of caregivers, clinics, hospitals, operating rooms and outreach programs that will sustain ongoing care efforts for years to come. Eventually, educated and well-trained local physicians and medical personnel will carry on into the future.
Medicus Christi proposes a long-term solution. We plan to set up The Franciscan Orthopedic and Rehabilitation CEnter (F.O.R.C.E.) at Holy Family Hospital, and The West African Learning Center (W.A.L.C.) for Orthopedic Surgery. These two facilities together will offer state-of-the-art care as well as training for African physicians to become the next generation of orthopedic specialists. The FORCE/WALC for Orthopedic Surgery will be located in Berekum, Ghana. Starting as a fully functional outpatient clinic sharing inpatient beds, Emergency Room and OR space with the Holy Family Hospital, it will be staffed by local medical personnel, supported by Medicus Christi volunteers. Within three years, the FORCE/WALC for Orthopedic Surgery will begin adding its own beds, OR rooms, ER space and dedicated educational facilities for Africa’s future medical providers.
As our organization grows and expands, we hope to branch out into other areas of medical care establishing a full time working, teaching, modern medical community. Physicians, surgeons, nurses, technicians and materials handlers will staff this state-of-the-art facility supported by the philanthropy of various sources in the West and visited frequently by a rotating army of international experts donating their time and talents for volunteer missions.
Our board of international professionals will guide us along the way. Our church will strengthen and enrich us and our faith will support us and enlighten our efforts.