Home  /  News  /  Community Outreach  /  Alumni

Improving Trauma Care Worldwide

Dr. Enrique Ginzburg recently visited the Himalayan nation of Bhutan to help them assess their trauma system.

Dr. Ginzburg and five others, four in Bhutanese clothing
Enrique Ginzburg, M.D. (third from left) and team

Enrique Ginzburg, M.D. ’85, a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine professor and trauma surgeon, was inspired by his recent trip to Bhutan, a tiny country nestled in the Himalayas between China and India. Dr. Ginzburg was struck by the nation’s awesome beauty and generosity, but he had a larger mission: to help the Bhutanese improve their trauma system.

This is not the first medical mission for Dr. Ginzburg. In 2010, he and colleagues helped Haiti set up a trauma center after that country’s devastating earthquake. Over the years, he has provided surgical insights and expertise in Ukraine, Argentina, Iraq, and other countries.

“Bhutan is a small country, around 750,000 to 800,000 people, and they don’t have enough physicians, particularly specialists,” said Dr. Ginzburg. “They only have a handful surgeons in the entire country. Their major hospital in Thimphu has good capabilities, but the rural clinics can only provide more basic care. If something truly major comes up, patients have to be transported to Thimphu or India.”

Bhutan mountainside
Dr. Ginzburg and his team toured Bhutan with its minister of health and took an inventory of the country’s medical capabilities.

To improve the trauma system, Bhutan’s Minister of Health, Dechen Wangmo, invited the Miller School team to assess the country’s capabilities and help devise ways to improve them. Dr. Ginzburg was joined by his wife Barbara Ginzburg, a retired occupational therapist, and Bhuwan Giri, M.D., a Bhutanese UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital chief surgical resident, who helped organize the trip.

Together, they conferred with Minister Wangmo and others, toured the country, and took an inventory of Bhutan’s medical capabilities.

“This was the first trip, so it was more visiting the different hospitals and clinics and understanding what their needs are,” said Dr. Ginzburg. “We wanted to get a feel for what they do and don’t have, and from there we can develop a plan to improve those capabilities.”

Building an International Collaboration

Bhutan is playing a long game on building its health care capabilities. Dechen Wangmo is a dynamic minister of health, who oversaw one of the world’s most effective COVID responses, and she is eager to pursue a more capable health care system. In addition, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, a urologist, is fully behind these efforts.

Dr. Ginzburg and four others by emergency medical response van in Bhutan
Dr. Ginzburg (center) and team

During the trip, Dr. Ginzburg and Minister Wangmo decided to explore an affiliation between Bhutan and the Miller School. This collaboration would include training for Bhutanese residents, physicians, and allied health care professionals like Dr. Giri to bring specialty expertise back home to Bhutan.

Improved care is an important priority in Bhutan, and it’s part of a larger plan. While the economy, as measured by gross domestic product, is always a concern, Bhutan has a special interest in “gross domestic happiness,” and has invested significantly to raise that indicator.

“Bhutan charges a sustainable development fee to western tourists, about $200 a day,” said Dr. Ginzburg. “They’re using a significant amount of that income for education and health. They really want to do all they can to improve the quality of life for their citizens.”

Tags: Barbara Ginzburg, Bhutan, DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, Dr. Bhuwan Giri, Dr. Enrique Ginzburg, medical alumni, trauma surgical critical care, UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital