Dr Gold, you are a general surgeon in Geneva, why do you feel the need to be involved in a humanitarian association?
When I chose to study medicine, it was with the aim of practising in developing countries. I was fortunate enough to be able, to simultaneously follow an excellent parallel training course and realize this project. Partly by choice, I now work in a private practice in Geneva. However, it is essential for me to keep in touch with the immense difficulties encountered by a large part of the population of our planet. We often have the impression that the task is so large that nothing changes. Nevertheless, every health care action performed can really change a life which in turn will a large number of other persons. It is crucial to put into perspective our own existences – sometimes so intense – when we are confronted with the poverty in which entire families live. It is an asset to be able to refocus on what really matters.
In what aspects of surgery does Switzerland differ from less privileged countries in other continents?
There are several levels of characteristic deficiencies, varying between urban and rural areas, and between war/disaster surgery and civil, routine surgery. The absence of diagnostic tools is very destabilizing because we sometimes have to begin an intervention without knowing what kind of problem we will encounter. It is also necessary to revive time-honoured techniques which have proved their worth. Common sense – which is sometimes masked at home by the cosmetic technological higher bid – is essential. However, we are in particular y confronted with the cost of every gesture, every instrument, every hospitalization. Operations demand enormous sacrifices from patients and their families in the absence of any insurance coverage or Social Security benefits. This is when the solidarity and joint responsibility of the family or village group assume their full value. Our duty is to support these efforts.
You are an adviser and member of the Council of 2nd Chance, what is your contribution to its projects?
After several field experiences, essentially on the African continent and in very varying contexts, I try to contribute some pragmatism in building a bridge between our ideas and their realization.