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Global Surgery Rotation

The University of Cincinnati Global Surgery Program offers a 2-week elective Plastic and Burn Surgery Rotation at Mzuzu Central Hospital in Malawi, Africa.

Performing surgery in Malawi

Mzuzu Central Hospital is the Central Hospital and referral center in the Northern region of Malawi serving a catchment area of approximately 2.5 million people. We currently have a General Surgery full-time faculty member on the ground for 12 months of the year, along with a rotating senior general surgery resident.

During the 2-week plastic surgery rotation, the resident travels to Malawi with one of the plastic surgery faculty, and has the opportunity to participate in acute and reconstruction burn operations, as well as other complex reconstructive surgeries. Because there are not any plastic surgeons in the northern region of Malawi, the opportunity for unique operative experiences is vast. We also teach Malawian practitioners who are doing 2-year apprenticeships in surgery during our 2-week stay, with lectures, bedside rounds and intra-operative experiences.


In addition to the clinical services provided, University of Cincinnati staff and residents actively participate in educational programs for the Malawian clinical officers and nursing students in every aspect of patient care.


The rotation allows our Plastic Surgery residents to evaluate, diagnose, and surgically treat both basic and complex surgical diseases in an austere environment, without the use of advanced technologies widely available in the United States. While working with our partners in Mzuzu Central Hospital, we learn to do surgery in a more efficient and adaptable way, also learning to treat tropical diseases not seen as often in the United States.

Through advocacy, service, education, we are able to support our friends who provide the best surgical care they are able to, under very difficult circumstances, with the knowledge that without them there would be no surgical service available at all.

Plastic surgery resident in Malawi

Malawi is known as the warm heart of Africa

Maps of Malawi

  • Third poorest country in the world.
  • Most of the population live in rural mud huts in thatched roof villages with no running water or electricity.
  • 40% of the gross national product is agriculture, 90% of the country’s export earnings.
  • 80% is grown on small family farms.

Where there is no surgeon….

  • In many places of the world, there is minimal access to health care.
  • Malawi has 0.018 physicians/1000 ... USA has 2.5/1000.
  • Surgical diseases make up 30% of the global disease burden.
  • Access to surgical services is nonexistent in many areas of Malawi.


  • That all in Malawi may have access to quality surgical care.


  • To enhance surgical care and capacity in Malawi by utilizing senior U.S. surgical residents and consultants to support the infrastructure in place at Mzuzu Central Hospital.
  • To provide shared learning experiences and unparalleled educational opportunities in an austere environment.
  • To inspire a transformative approach to global health.

Core Values

  • Excellence in clinical services provided.
  • Respect for colleagues and staff at all levels.
  • Compassion for patients and their families.
  • Advocacy for those who are dedicated to improving healthcare in Malawi.


Elizabeth L. Dale, MD


Ann Schwentker, MD
Plastic, Reconstructive, Hand, and Burn Surgery Residency Director

Kristen Merkhofer
Plastic, Reconstructive, Hand, and Burn Surgery Residency Coordinator
Phone: 513-558-4363
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University of Cincinnati
College of Medicine
231 Albert Sabin Way
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0558

Mail Location: 0558
Phone: 513-558-4748