The purpose for visiting Egypt was to visit the new program at Harpur Memorial Hospital in Menouf, Egypt. This hospital is 102 years old, founded by the Irish missionary doctor Frank Harpur who came to Egypt in 1889. It is in a relatively rural, impoverished area in the Delta, 40 miles from Cairo proper (see map). Urban sprawl and over 200 speed bumps make the trip take 2 hours by car.
Dave Thompson, founder of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons and career missionary in Gabon, and Sherif Hanna, an Egyptian-Canadian liver surgeon from the U. of Toronto, have moved to this hospital to begin training. They have two new trainees who are qualified Egyptian surgeons but who wish more hands-on monitoring. They will train 3 or four years depending on their progress.
This was our first trip to this program. We were encouraged to see how much enthusiasm there is for the PAACS training, both among the administration and the physicians on staff. The hospital will essentially be rebuilt over the next decade but some great strides have already been made to make the present areas usable. They are also building housing for the career and short-term surgeons as well as a new PAACS office complex with a conference room. A 40’ sea-going container from Samaritan’s Purse went a long way to make that happen. The bishop of the Egyptian Anglican church, Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis, is actually a gastroenterologist and was the head of this hospital for over two decades, so there is support from the very top. We had the pleasure of meeting him and dining at his home.
For one of the very few times over the years, we spent a few days sight-seeing. It was at the end of our trip. One of Bruce’s majors in college was ancient history, so he was in hog-heaven and Sean loved it. We have posted some pictures on Bruce’s Facebook page. In this country of almost 90 million, 13 million are directly affected by the tourism industry, so the lack of tourists is hitting them hard. We were often begged to tell Americans to come. We never felt unsafe except one time when the police shot a thief (who had fired his handgun first) in the street very near our apartment. The worst part was wondering what was going on since we did not understand the shouted Arabic
Next week, Bruce goes to a medical meeting (SAGES) in Salt Lake City where he will give a short presentation on tropical medicine for surgery on Friday. The rest of the time will be preparing for the upcoming semi-annual meeting for PAACS which will be held in Chicago April 10 and 11. PAACS is facing some major decisions and needs to essentially double its budget in the next three or four years to position it for the future and to meet the training needs of our present residencies. Please pray for wisdom and the ability to make the hard decisions, but most of all pray for God’s clear hand in whatever is done and decided.
Our next big trip is to the Christian Medical & Dental Associations Continuing Medical Education Conference to be held in Greece at the end of April. We are excited about this meeting which will have attendees from S. America, Central America, Africa and Asia – perhaps for the first time ever. Please pray – we are stymied in getting visas approved for all our African attendees.