From Egypt to America and Beyond

The Coptic Medical Association of North America (CMANA) was established in 2010 to provide medical professionals in the US a chance to serve the underprivileged in Egypt. The arrival of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in 2011 prevented further missions to Egypt, and so the organization began putting together mission trips to other countries. Currently CMANA works in Kenya, Ethiopia, Haiti, Zambia, Egypt, Namibia, and Tanzania. Their staff continues to strive to forge partnerships in new countries and provide more diverse support to those they serve.

Initially, CMANA’s teams were made up of general practice physicians. However, over time they expanded their rosters to include specialists, psychologists, pharmacists, nurses, medical students, and social workers. Starting in 2012, they also began recruiting surgeons to accompany and perform operations that local facilities might not have the materials or expertise to successfully execute. Additionally, they have integrated training sessions for local medical practitioners, WASH education for communities, and spiritual learning.

CMANA volunteers with an elderly patient

CMANA volunteers with an elderly patient

MDP Supports CMANA Missions

In 2017, CMANA reached out to CMMB to request medicine and medical supplies for a mission trip planned for Namibia. CMMB approved their application and donated over $31,000 worth of medical products for patients in Namibia. The organizations had the opportunity to connect and debrief following the mission, and upon learning of CMANA’s model for continuing mission trips and capacity building, the CMMB – CMANA partnership began to expand.

In the two years since this first donation, CMMB has supported nine CMANA mission trips travelling to Haiti, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Namibia, and Zambia. The majority of medicines that CMANA teams utilize for healthcare services on their trips are provided by CMMB. The types of products donated so far include diabetes medication, anti-hypertensives, beta blockers, antibiotics, anti-psychotic medication, vitamins, first aid, medical supplies, and even glasses. They have received products donated by 23 different CMMB donors including Mylan, Johnson & Johnson, Unipharm, and Restoring Vision.

ethiopian street market

Common scene of a street market in Ethiopia

St. Paul’s Millenium College Hospital, Addis Ababa

A highlight of CMANA and CMMB’s collaboration is the work being undertaken in Ethiopia. St. Paul’s Millenium College Hospital in Addis Ababa was founded in 1969 by Emperor Halie Selassie with support from the German Evangelical Church. The mission of the Hospital is to serve the poor who have no other access to medical care. Currently, 75% of the patients who visit St. Paul’s receive care free of charge. It is the second largest health facility in the country, and sees an average of 1,200 emergency and outpatient cases each day.

Despite the crucial mission of the facility, and the support of the Ethiopian government, St. Paul’s experiences frequent stock outs of medicine and medical products. As a means of providing a partial remedy to this problem, CMMB and CMANA have collaborated to provide semi-regular donations to the facility. CMMB circulates lists of available product to CMANA who works directly with the pharmacy staff at St. Paul’s to understand their needs and absorptive capacity. Once products have been selected, the group works with Ethiopia Airlines who dedicates space in the cargo cabin of flights at a highly discounted rate to transport pallets of medicine directly to Addis Ababa.

A happy patient after consultation with CMANA volunteers

A happy patient after consultation with CMANA volunteers

CMANA also sends surgical teams to Ethiopia to work side by side with St. Paul’s medical staff and assist in servicing the massive case load of patients the facility sees daily. These trips provide the Hospital with a greater capacity to serve poor patients as well as an increased breadth of medical expertise. On the other side, it is often a pivotal growing experience for American doctors volunteering abroad

As one volunteer, Dr. Mena Bakhit said: “The trip was the first medical mission I went on where I used my training in Gastroenterology to teach and to learn. The experience in Ethiopia was by far the most eye-opening experiences I have ever been on.”

It is only through our partnerships with organizations like CMANA that our Medical Donations Program can reach so many patients each year.

Learn more about our Medical Donations Program