Mongolia Medical Mission: Discovery Trip Recap

In 2014 a team of Spine Care International (SCI) members traveled to Mongolia to assess the population’s need for spinal disorder treatments.

In our report, SCI found four major barriers to patients receiving spine care.

  • Exorbitant cost of implant devices
  • Inadequate equipment & tools
  • Lack of exposure to advanced surgical techniques
  • Inaccessible neurosurgeons and clinic facilities

Although Mongolia’s public health care system provides their citizens with free medical care, the system is greatly flawed in providing affordable treatment for spinal disorders. Even though the entire cost of neurosurgery is covered by the government, the medical implant devices are excluded. In a country (according to World Vision) where 27.4% of the population lives in poverty and have an average annual income of $4,280, the cost of an implanted device of $3,000 is near to impossible.

The hospitals in Mongolia have insufficient surgical tools to conduct basic neurosurgeries. The lack of equipment has impacted local neurosurgeons, leaving them with little exposure to the latest surgical techniques. Consequently, it has left an entire nation deficient in pediatric neurosurgery. Due to the inaccessibility of pediatric neurosurgeons in Mongolia, children with neurological disorders such as spina bifida, are left untreated or forced to travel abroad for treatment. Furthermore, patients in rural areas have even more difficulty getting treatment because they do not have access to diagnostic machinery; their spinal disorders are almost always left untreated.

SCI is a firm believer of sustainable empowerment, and is working to provide Mongolia with all the resources and tools to be successful and autonomous in the treatment of spine disorders.

  • SCI is teaming up with medical companies to provide implants to patients free of charge or at the production cost, making the spinal surgeries either free or manageable for the Mongolian civilians.
  • During our 10 day medical service trip, our surgical team will screen 20 patients and select 10-15 surgical candidates exhibiting the greatest need.
  • Concurrently, SCI will coordinate with Mongolia’s Ministry of Health, medical device companies, and other nonprofits to obtain better equipment for the local neurosurgeons.
  • During our spring 2016 medical service trip, our team of dedicated surgeons will be offering the local neurosurgeons training on advanced spinal surgery techniques.
  • Within the next couple of years SCI will work on sponsoring a Mongolian physician for a Pediatrics neurosurgery fellowship in the United States, as well as address the transportation issues rural patients face.