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Staff and Global Surgery Advocacy Fellows

Global Surgery Advocacy Fellowship

Global Surgery Advocacy Fellowship

The Global Surgery Advocacy Fellowship empowers and trains local leaders to be passionate, compassionate and skilled advocates for surgical and anesthesia care.

Five billion people lack access to safe, affordable, and timely surgical and anesthesia care. This is roughly two-thirds of the world's population. But the need is even more acute in low- and middle- income countries, where 94% of people lack access to surgical care. Surgical conditions kill 17 million people per year, which is more than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. 

Yet, surgical care is still not a priority for most governments. For example, of 43 national health strategic plans in Africa reviewed, 19% had no mention of surgery or surgical conditions, and 63% had five or fewer mentions, compared to hundreds of mentions of HIV and malaria. Consequently, surgical systems in low- and middle-income countries have remained underfunded and underdeveloped, incapable of meeting the surgical needs of vulnerable populations.  

The most powerful agents for change are communities that are most impacted by weak surgical systems including frontline health care leaders and patient communities. Recognizing this, the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), The Nkafu Policy Institute and Operation Smile have come together to create the Global Surgery Advocacy Fellowship (GSAF).  The GSAF will identify and train these leaders based in low- and middle-income countries in policy and advocacy skills to be passionate, compassionate and skilled advocates for surgical and anesthesia care within their communities and globally. 

The Global Surgery Advocacy Fellowship will empower and train 150 local leaders in low- and middle-income countries over the next decade.

By identifying and empowering these global surgery advocates in low- and middle-income countries, we will increase visibility for global surgery and create a platform for policy change locally and globally. 

This program aims to: 

  • Identify emerging global surgery leaders and advocates in low- and middle-income countries. 

  • Empower them to advocate for the prioritization of surgical and anesthesia care to decision makers locally and globally. 

  • Train these leaders in grassroots and global advocacy. 

  • Create a network of skilled, well-informed and confident global surgery advocates locally, regionally and globally. 

The program's core components include skills development, capstone advocacy projects and mentorship. Mentorship is at the core of the program, as each fellow will be matched with a mentor that will provide year-round guidance and mentorship to help the fellows develop their unique advocacy voice and become effective change agents for increased access to safe, timely and affordable surgical and anesthesia care. 


Maria Jose Garcia

María José García

María José García is a sociology and political science expert on international relations. She holds postgraduate degrees in public policy design and project management. María has a wealth of experience in leadership, advocacy and community relations, having worked with the Vice Presidency of Ecuador, the Municipality of Quito and various NGOs. She has led social responsibility, health, community development and public policy projects. Her contributions to the National Surgical Strengthening Plan in Ecuador earned her an honorable mention in The Lancet. María is a proactive and creative professional dedicated to addressing complex development challenges.

Juan Carlos Gallego

Juan Carlos Gallego

Dr. Juan Carlos Gallego, a renowned gynecologist and professor, is affiliated with Fundacion Valle del Lili and ICESI University. He is committed to health equity and advocates for sexual and reproductive rights in vulnerable populations. Gallego’s community work, particularly the “Hospital Padrino” strategy, has reduced maternal mortality and is now part of Colombia’s public policy. As a volunteer, he’s provided care to underserved communities and trained local healthcare workers, witnessing the transformative impact of improved lives. Gallego is eager to enhance his skills, collaborate and improve women’s health in Colombia.

Tinsae Abera Worku

Tinsae Abera Worku

Dr. Tinsae Abera Worku is an Ethiopian medical doctor and global health leader holding a master's degree in global health delivery with a focus on health management. With a profound passion for global surgery and a commitment to addressing surgical care disparities in resource-limited countries, Tinsae is actively participating in various global surgery projects. Her expertise encompasses clinical care, education, gender equity, disaster management, research and advocacy, reflecting a holistic approach to improving individual and community health outcomes. Driven by a commitment to evidence-based policymaking, innovation and advocacy, Tinsae is dedicated to closing knowledge and research gaps and advocating for health equity.

Regina Sinsai

Regina Sinsai

Regina Sinsai is a public health researcher at the Nkafu Policy Institute in Cameroon. She has a degree in psychology and a diploma in nursing, which she obtained from the United States International University—Africa in Nairobi and a vocational training institute in Yaoundé. She leads research projects to contribute to equitable healthcare delivery as a public health researcher. Her advocacy interests include healthcare financing for surgical patients or, in other words, improving access to affordable surgical procedures by reducing catastrophic health expenditures for patients.

Nicolas Okumu Ochieng

Nicolas Okumu Ochieng

Dr. Nicholas Okumu is a renowned orthopedic surgeon and healthcare leader in Kenya. He heads the Orthopaedic Oncology Unit at Kenyatta National Hospital and is the CEO of Stratus Medical. He holds a master’s degree in orthopaedic surgery and an MBA. His training includes project management and leadership from Harvard and the University of Washington. As a 2024 Global Surgery Advocacy Fellow, he is dedicated to improving orthopedic care and healthcare accessibility in Kenya and mentoring future leaders.

Pierrette Ngutete Mukundwa

Pierrette Ngutete Mukundwa

Dr. Pierrette Ngutete Mukundwa, a global health leader, holds a master's degree in global health delivery from the University of Global Health and a medical degree from the University of Rwanda. She serves as a faculty member at UGHE, coordinating global surgery modules, mentoring students and supporting the Center for Equity in Global Surgery. Her experience as a general practitioner in Rwanda highlighted the need for equitable surgical care. She advocates for patient inclusion in healthcare decisions and ensures interventions are tailored to their needs.

Metasebie Worku Abebe

Metasebia Worku Abebe

Dr. Metasebia Worku Abebe is an assistant professor and plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Saint Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College and leads the plastic and reconstructive surgery unit. She’s dedicated to reconstructive surgery, caring for patients with various needs. She has recently made history as the first female plastic surgeon from Ethiopia to be a College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) fellow. Beyond her clinical work, she’s committed to education and advocacy for increased access to safe reconstructive surgical care.

Senior Fellows

Abdo Husen

Abdo Husen Abdulkadir

Abdo Husen Abdulkadir is a public health specialist with a special focus on healthcare project management. He has received a postgraduate degree in public health from Hawassa University in Ethiopia. He has been trained in project management, health system management, monitoring and evaluations. Mr. Husen Abdulkadir is also a current student fellow at Africa Civil Engagement Academy, a program being run by the University of Georgia. Mr. Husen Abdulkadir has more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare and nonprofit sectors having held program coordination and project management roles at various international NGOs, including Amref Health Africa, The Fred Hollows Foundation and The Pharo Foundation.

Patrick Maison

Patrick Maison

Dr. Maison is a urologist and senior lecturer with the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. He is a fellow of the Ghana College of Surgeons and also of the West African College of Surgeons where he graduated in 2014. Patrick has a passion to improve surgical practice in Ghana by promoting the training and practice of minimally invasive surgery across the country. He won the prize for the best candidate in urology in West Africa in 2014 and has received academic scholarships from the International Society of Urology (SIU), International Volunteers of Urology (IVUmed) and the Ghana Education Trust Fund. He has also won some competitive international research grants and has over 20 research publications to his credit.

Dr. Simon Pierre

Bigirimana Simon Pierre

Dr. Simon Pierre is a medical doctor with extensive clinical experience in remote areas. He has been trained in Advanced Life Support of Gynecology and Obstetrics and Essential surgical skills. Dr. Simon Pierre is passionate about global surgery, research and orthopedics. Currently in the Clinical Medicine Division at the University of Global Health Equity as a junior faculty and coordinator, he coordinates and participates in the teaching of students during their clerkship in different hospital and participates in curricula development. With the CEGS team he participates in different research aiming to contribute to equitable health delivery.

Rahantasoa Finaritra Casimir Fleur Prudence

Casimir Fleur Prudence Rahantasoa Finaritra

Dr. Rahantasoa Finaritra is a surgeon in Madagascar. She works in the Department of Visceral and Digestive Surgery and is also a teaching assistant in the Faculty of Medicine of Antananarivo. In 2022, she won a scholarship for young students from the French National Society of Gastro-Enterology. The scholarship included an internship in Paris for a week and participation in an international congress. She did a one-year internship in France in 2018 and a three-month internship in South Korea in 2022. She has also had the opportunity over the past few years to assist some workshop offered by Mercyships. Her research focus is primarily on digestive surgery.

Carolina Franco Roldan

Carolina Franco Roldan

Dr. Franco Roldan was born and raised in Medellin, Colombia, in a time marked by violence and drug trafficking. She graduated from medical school at the CES University in Medellin. She trained in anesthesia with an emphasis in oncology in Bogota, Colombia, at the National Institute of Cancerology. After her residency, Dr. Franco Roldan began volunteering for Operation Smile, and served as a volunteer in surgical programs for 11 years. Dr. Franco Roldan went on to receive additional training in obstetric and fetal anesthesia a the Clinic Hospital in Barcelona, Spain. She has served as an anesthesiologist and subspecialist in many hospitals in various regions of Colombia.

Logos of the Global Surgery Advocacy Fellowship

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