Meeting the global need in otolaryngologic patient care

July 2018 – Vol. 37, No. 6

“Anyone who has done volunteer medical work in underserved countries has witnessed treatment efforts that have been partially or fully compromised by lack of medical equipment. Service to humanity is our calling as physicians, and the Otolaryngology United for Global Patient Care initiative is one way to answer that call.”

—Mark Zafereo, MD


Mark Zafereo, MD

The AAO-HNSF 2018 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience is the launchpad to formalize the work of the Humanitarian Efforts Committee to connect donated medical supplies and instruments to medically underserved communities around the world. This initiative, working in collaboration with MedShare, Inc., encourages members to engage in this effort so that the much-needed demands of underserved communities around the world are being met.

Bulletin staff talked with Mark Zafereo, MD, Chair of the AAO-HNSF Humanitarian Efforts Committee, about this donation effort, open now through December 31, 2018.

“The vast majority of disease burden in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery is in underdeveloped countries. Donating disposable medical supplies and durable equipment is one way to make a tangible impact in expanding patient care, treatment, and quality of life for patients,” said Dr. Zafereo.

Dr. Zafereo started participating in international medical volunteer efforts in college, continued through medical school and residency, and maintains this work today with a focus on education and collaboration with international colleagues as an Associate Professor of Head and Neck Surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. He supplemented this commitment to the global otolaryngology community by volunteering on the AAO-HNSF Humanitarian Efforts Committee starting in his second year of residency. His own experience coupled with his involvement on the Committee demonstrated a clear need to connect the wealth of extra medical equipment in the United States with the needs in the developing world.

“For the last 10-12 years, the Committee has been working informally to match members with the global need. We have received inquiries from members who are retiring and have durable medical equipment to donate and some who just want a simple way to contribute medical supplies to the global community. As you can imagine, it has presented some challenges since the Academy does not have unlimited resources to manage a donation and distribution effort,” said Dr. Zafereo.

This is where the idea for a collaboration with MedShare came to light. “The biggest hurdle for us was the distribution component. We had members who wanted to donate, but we needed to find them the means to get their donations in the hands of those who needed them. So, we started to look at this issue in a different way. Rather than try to do both, we realized that we could just focus on what we know, what we do, and what we have. If we provide the donors, then we can simply partner with an entity that does the distribution, and that is really how this initiative got its legs,” said Dr. Zafereo.

MedShare provides an ideal opportunity for cooperation since their headquarters are in Atlanta, GA, the home to the AAO-HNSF 2018 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience.

A call to action has been issued to Academy members as the AAO-HNSF Humanitarian Efforts Committee seeks participation in the Otolaryngology United in Global Patient Care initiative.

“We have the real opportunity to respond to a global need by eliminating waste and sharing our resources with our international colleagues abroad. This initiative provides a very easy and simple way to be leaders and influence access to care. Whether it is surplus supplies in our institutions or practices or durable equipment at the end of our careers, these donations make a difference overall on a global scale, as well as individually to the patients receiving the care,” said Dr. Zafereo.

For more information about this initiative and how you can help, visit or contact