The Arequipa Medical Mission has been serving the community since its beginning. The mission supports and collaborates with the Burn Unit at Honorio Delgado Regional Hospital providing training, surgical equipment and supplies. The Mission helps educate and feed over 250 children in the Elohim School in Arequipa. In addition, the missions works closely with the Rotary Club of Arequipa in various social programs, such as feeding elderly people in poor neighborhoods in Arequipa.
When opportunities present themselves to help, the Arequipa Mission is ready. In 1991, Dr. Pepper introduced Laparoscopic Surgery in Peru. Two surgeons from San Augustin University were the first to receive laparoscopic surgery training in Peru, before any surgeon in the capital of Lima was trained. Now, laparoscopic surgeries are performed throughout Peru.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Arequipa Mission provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks, gowns, gloves, and disinfectants for hospital personnel. As Covid patients flooded the hospital and tents were set up to take care of patients in the middle of winter, the Arequipa Mission provided blankets, heaters and food for hospital patients.
40th Anniversary of Arequipa Mission
Dr. Anibal Pepper, Mission Director
40 years ago, on one of my many return trips to Arequipa, I had a candid conversation with Dr. Carlos Galdos, my former professor and Chief of Surgery at the Facultad de Medicina. He was concerned about the high mortality of burn patients in his hospital. The mortality rate was several times higher than in a more modern facility. I was horrified to learn that most patients with 30% surface area burns died, and they died from preventable causes. They died for lack of proper surgical equipment and treatment. A dermatome, used for skin grafting in the United States, was unavailable to Peruvian surgeons. They did skin grafting by hand with Gillette shaving blades instead. Infection, as a result of inferior and outdated treatments, contributed significantly to mortality. I was appalled by this unacceptable level oof care and promised my former professor I would do my best to find a solution.
The Honorio Delgado Hospital serves a poor and indigent population without many financial resources. We were able to secure one wing of the hospital for a newly functioning Burn Unit (la Unidad de Quemados). Initially, I purchased dermatomes and donated them to the hospital. With a dedicated space and a dedicated director, the new Burn Unit became one of the best in the country. Under the guidance of Dr. German Muñoz Hidalgo, an excellent physician and leader, the Burn Unit flourished. Today, patients in Arequipa with burns on as much as 8% of their body surface area survive. It is figure that matches the American Standard.
In 1983, I spend one month working in the unit I helped found. With donation from family and friends, we delivered more necessary equipment. I spend the month treating patients and training local physicians in this highly specialized field of medicine. For over 35 years, I have dedicated myself to maintaining the standards in the Burn Unit. With the help of the PERUVIAN AMERICAN MEDICAL SOCIETY, I have procured anesthesia machines, pulse oximeters, heart monitors, dermatome blades and a multitude of other supplies the hospital is unable to provide.
Sixteen years ago, it came to my attention the same problem was occurring in Iquitos, the largest city in the Amazon region of Perú. Patients with burns died if they could not be transported by air to Lima. I was reminded of our beginnings in Arequipa. Learning from my experience and following a similar model, I took the necessary steps to provide funds and establish a Burn Unit in Iquitos. Experienced personnel from the Arequipa Unit traveled to Iquitos to train local nurses. And likewise, medical personnel from Iquitos went to Arequpa for on-site training and experience in the original Burn Unit. It is a reward like no other for me to see how many lives we are changing and saving.