Fifty-six million people in Africa require surgical care. However, 93% of sub-Saharan Africa needs access to safe surgical, anesthesia, and obstetric care that is prompt and affordable. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are, on average, only 4.5 doctors per 10,000 individuals in Africa. With the incentive of higher pay and modern equipment and facilities, young African doctors often go abroad to complete their medical studies and then stay to work.
The Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) responds to the great need for surgeons in Africa. PAACS is a non-denominational, multinational service organization training African physicians to become surgeons willing to remain in Africa to meet this need.
In 1996, there was only one surgeon in Gabon — David Thompson, MD. Dr. Thompson was serving at Bongolo Mission Hospital and developed a desire to impact the great need for surgery in Africa powerfully. He expressed his concerns with a group of missionary surgeons from various African mission hospitals. Together, they formed a steering committee. By 2002, the program had graduated its first surgeon. At the time, Loma Linda University had agreed to accredit PAACS programs, provide a diploma to its graduates, and has been in partnership with PAACS ever since.
Today, with 24 different surgical/specialty training programs, PAACS is accepted by the College of Surgery of East, Central, and Southern Africa (COCESCSA) as an accredited training program. “The PAACS residents take the exams with COCESCSA residents, and almost every year, it’s a PAACS resident who gets the highest score on the exam in the continent,” says Dr. Mark Reeves, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Surgery of LLU and LLU’s representative to PAACS.
PAACS has an equally rigorous spiritual curriculum, providing both spiritual and surgical training. With a mission to glorify God by training and disciplining African surgeons, PAACS works to encourage specialists to become Christ-like leaders and servants who provide excellent and compassionate care to those most in need.
Now established in 11 countries, PAACS partners with 17 mission hospitals, mainly in rural areas, sending surgeons where they are most needed. PAACS anticipates a growing number of African surgeons and related specialists holding out the gospel and ministering to the sick. In 2023, forty-one new residents started a PAACS program, the largest incoming class since its inception.
As part of LLU’s accreditation efforts, site visits are conducted every five years. In April 2023, Dr. Reeves conducted accreditation visits in several African countries, including Malawi and Egypt. Malamulo Adventist Hospital (MAH) in Malawi is currently the only Adventist PAACS site. Plans are underway to develop Bere Adventist Hospital (BAH) as a future PAACS site. Both MAH and BAH are LLUH Global Campuses and Adventist Health International partner sites.