American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

2011 International Volunteer Award: Girma Tefera

Dr. Tefera teaching residents at the emergency medicine training center at Addis Ababa University.

Girma Tefera, MD, FACS, of Madison, WI, received the 2011 Surgical Volunteerism Award for international outreach in recognition of his significant contributions toward improving the delivery of surgical care in Ethiopia. A native of Ethiopia, Dr. Tefera has dedicated himself to building robust and strategic partnerships that strengthen the way in which health care is delivered in his homeland. Dr. Tefera grew up in Chencha, a small town in the south of Ethiopia, as one of seven children. He left home at age 12 to enroll in high school 35 kilometers away and later traveled to Italy to pursue medicine. After medical school, he served in the military in Ethiopia for five years. Dr. Tefera completed postgraduate training in general surgery first in Germany and later again in Washington, DC, due to difficulties returning to Africa. Since moving to Madison to pursue a vascular surgery fellowship, he has continued as a member of the University of Wisconsin faculty and participates in community outreach at several local clinics. At least semiannually, Dr. Tefera has returned to Ethiopia, volunteering his surgical skills and recruiting U.S. colleagues to provide needed educational and training support, supplies, and equipment. These efforts evolved into a professional bilateral exchange with Ethiopian surgeons traveling to Wisconsin for training in trauma management, surgical oncology, and laparoscopic surgery. Over the past four years, Dr. Tefera’s contributions have been further magnified as additional stakeholders and funding have enabled significant investments in the long-term health care needs of Ethiopia, including workforce expansion, formal academic partnerships, and establishment of the country’s first emergency medicine residency program. Collaborative efforts are underway to address intensive care, pediatrics, and medicine programs, as well as upgrades to the operating rooms and surgical services. This broadly based work will strategically build the necessary infrastructure and train a workforce appropriate to local needs.