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On the Surgical Frontlines in South Sudan

On the Surgical Frontlines in South Sudan

Surgeon and Bloomberg School alum Adam Kushner mentors students in global health surgery.


International Health associate and surgeon Adam Kushner, MD, MPH ’99 operates on patients in hospitals without electricity. He can handle stress.

However, on a recent mission to South Sudan with Medecins Sans Frontieres, his anxiety level spiked. While repairing a baby’s hernia, he discovered a gangrenous intestine.

“I looked at it for a good 15 seconds, hoping it would change, thinking I’m not really here in a district hospital in South Sudan and I don’t have to do a bowel resection on a one-year-old child with no intensive care unit,” recalls Kushner, who completed the procedure successfully.

The MSF mission is emblematic of Kushner’s advocacy for surgical care as a critical component of global public health. The MPH alum is committed to building the evidence base to document surgical need in developing countries. 

On the faculty of the School's Center for Refugee and Disaster Response, Kushner mentors students interested in global health surgery, some of whom have signed on with his surgical-needs research in Nepal.

With the MSF team in South Sudan, Kushner found the operating room conditions to be a cut above the usual: There was anesthesia and suction, but not x-rays or CT scans.

On his fifth MSF mission, Kushner performed about 80 procedures, including several C-sections for cases of obstructed labor and other complications.

He’s not sure when he’ll next be on the surgical frontlines—just that there will be a next time. “I need to be there because that’s the best use of my skills.”

Medecins Sans Frontieres
Surgeons OverSeas (SOS)