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Egyptian Conference Demonstrates the House of Surgery Is a Global Fellowship

My watch read a little before 02:00 as our jetliner crossed the shore of the Mediterranean Ocean approximately over Alexandria, Egypt, the fabled ancient home of the Alexandria Library where so much ancient medical knowledge was lost centuries ago. 

The North African landscape was ablaze with lights below as we then began our descent to Cairo, where I would be representing the ACS at the Egyptian Chapter meeting and ASUMC. What would I find? How would I, a small-town surgeon from Kansas, relate to surgeons leading and working in surgery in a historic megalopolis of 26 million people?

What I subsequently discovered over the next 4 days was, as I’ve found in other far-flung locales, the camaraderie, mutual respect, and fellowship that is the American College of Surgeons. 

My primary hosts were Mohey Eldin Ragab Elbanna, MBBCh, FACS, President of the Egypt Chapter, and Ahmed Khalil Massoud, MBBCh, FACS, Governor of the Egyptian Chapter. As part of my adventure in Egypt and prior to the conference, they introduced me to their medical center at Ain Shams University, which is a sprawling complex of buildings dating back to the early 20th century. Thousands of patients are seen there every day, receiving care of an advanced nature regardless of the ability to pay. 

Among some of the institutions within this great university are a medical school (M1 class of more than 2,200 from all over the region), orthopaedic hospital, obstetrics and gynecology hospital, cardiovascular institute, pediatrics hospital, general surgery, internal medicine, and much more. 

Overseeing this vast complex is CEO Tarek Youssef, MBBCh, FACS, the Egyptian Chapter Treasurer, and Dr. Ali Al-Anwar, MD, dean of the medical school and president of the conference. Both are surgeons.

While I visited with these two leaders, they were discussing an upcoming meeting with the accreditation agency. I smiled. Even 6,674 miles from my medical school, the vagaries of accreditation rules are pressing.

During the chapter meeting, I enjoyed the presentations of members much in the format we see in the United States. Bariatric surgery, Dr. ElBanna’s particular interest, was featured and, as in the US, the problem of obesity and medical impact of that condition are growing issues in Egypt. Various upper GI cases and problems were presented and discussed. These were all problems and challenges surgeons face everywhere and the universal language of scientific inquiry reigned. Dr. ElBanna gave a very insightful address on management of change, which would fit in at any conference of surgeons worldwide.

Perhaps the most important aspects of my trip and visit were the informal discussions I had both with my hosts and other members of the chapter. The changes in surgery, training surgeons, how to pay for services, simulation training, finding resources, accreditations, societal impacts of COVID were all subjects in which I found great commonality. It was and is a fellowship of surgeons. In Egypt and the world over, surgeons are working together to achieve the goal of serving all with skill and trust.

I was truly honored to meet these surgeons and honored to represent the American College of Surgeons in the global quest to improve surgery for all.

Tyler G. Hughes, MD, FACS
ACS First Vice-President