Two Israeli doctors performed life changing surgery for needy patients during an Operation Rainbow medical mission to Ecuador. Ecuador is one of the poorest nations in Latin America. According to the Pan American Health Organization; its healthcare system reflects this. Major health problems in Ecuador include but are not limited to malnutrition, diabetes, acute respiratory infections, diarrheic diseases, and heart disease, which is the main cause of death in Ecuador.

Amongst Ecuador’s rural agricultural population, people also suffer from illnesses caused by various pesticides. Yet as if these health issues were not difficult enough to deal with, hospitals in Ecuador have a high demand, lack infrastructure and much expertise that is common in the developed world, and don’t necessarily have the staff to cope with every ill patient. Given these prevailing conditions, countries like Ecuador are badly in need of foreign assistance.

Operation Rainbow is an American organization dedicated to providing medical assistance to developing countries like Ecuador. Dr. William B. Riley founded Operation Rainbow after witnessing patients in chronic need in the Philippines. His organization focuses mainly on orthopedic surgical intervention, which is presently lacking in many developing countries.

Every year, Operation Rainbow leads 6-9 humanitarian medical missions, where much needed medical care is given to children and young adults suffering from congenital abnormalities or untreated chronic injury in localities where they lack the resources to properly help them. Operation Rainbow also trains local hospital staff in developing countries on ways that they can improve the medical care that they provide.

On Operation Rainbow’s mission trip to Ecuador, two Israeli MDs, Dr. Mark Eidelman, who is the director of the pediatric orthopedic department at Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus, and Dr. Noam Bor, who is a Emek Medical Center senior orthopedic surgeon, joined the American Operation Rainbow medical teem for the first time. The two Israeli doctors treated 33 young patients from neighboring villages of Loja within four fourteen hour days.

In the medical field, this is considered to be very intensive, since Rambam, for example, only performs 10 orthopedic surgeries per week. However, such intensity was necessary, since there were around 350 young patients within the hospital where they worked who were in need of surgeries from the foreign doctors, yet only 75 of the patients in the most critical condition were selected for treatment.

Operation Rainbow was very much pleased with the work performed by these two Israeli doctors. According to Operation Rainbow director Laura Escobosa, “It worked out very well. Our team was thrilled and the local doctors were thrilled. This was the second time we’ve been to this particular hospital, and we like it because it’s an academic hospital where we can do a lot of teaching through lectures and practical’s.”

Indeed, in addition to performing surgeries, Dr. Eidelman gave three lectures at a local medical school in Ecuador. According to Dr. Eidelman, “In Ecuador there are not many pediatric orthopedic surgeons, and in Loja there are none, so I taught local doctors.” Despite the fact that the trip was very intensive, Dr. Eidelman asserted that he would be delighted to do such a mitzvah again, for “it was very good emotionally and professionally.”

By Rachel Avraham