Posted on Oct 19, 2012 · Posted in News

Russell E. White, MD, FACS, MPH, chief of surgery and surgery residency director at Tenwek Hospital, was honored by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) on October 2, 2012, with the 2012 Surgical Humanitarian Award. Presented by the ACS and Pfizer, the award recognizes ACS Fellows who have dedicated a substantial portion of their careers to ensuring that underserved populations receive surgical care. While this work may constitute a large part of their career, they have done so without expectation of commensurate compensation.

Dr. White, a member of the Tenwek staff since 1997, specializes in esophageal cancer, the most common malignancy in Kenya. His expertise – which includes a caseload of approximately 2,000 patients and extensive research on the etiology, screening, and treatment of the disease – has helped Tenwek become the busiest center in Kenya for the palliative and curative treatment of esophageal cancer.

Through Dr. White’s leadership, Tenwek actively collaborates with numerous academic and governmental institutions in the U.S. and Africa. He recently established a cardiac surgery program to address the high local incidence of rheumatic heart disease.

Dr. White also was instrumental in establishing Tenwek’s General Surgery Residency Program in 2008 – one of the first surgical residencies in Kenya located outside Nairobi. The program is accredited through the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons. The five-year program now has10 active residents and will graduate its first class at the end of this year.

Since 1997, Dr. White also has overseen a one-year rotating internship that accommodates another 16 surgical trainees and has helped develop the Family Practice Residency Program. He spearheaded the funding and construction of multiple hospital facilities to accommodate these training programs and to improve the hospital’s surgical, endoscopy, and radiology facilities.

Dr. White’s involvement in surgical education extends beyond the hospital and across borders. He serves as an oral examiner for COSECSA and coordinates the writing of their qualifying exams; collaborates on surgical and oncology training programs in Malawi, Zambia, and South Sudan; is an associate professor of surgery at Brown University; and supervises surgical residents on rotations to Tenwek. He is also on the staff at Rhode Island Hospital, where he works with medical students and residents.

 Dr. White was born in the Belgian Congo, where his parents worked as medical missionaries. He was later raised in northern Michigan and received his education at Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, NY, and the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor. He pursued a master of public health degree at Harvard University during his general surgery residency at Brown Medical School, Providence, RI, followed by a thoracic surgery fellowship at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, England. Throughout his graduate school and postgraduate training, Dr. White engaged in volunteer medical work in both the local community and Africa.

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 78,000 members, and it is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

Compiled from Information provided by the American College of Surgeons


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