Taking action for the less fortunate.

In 1995, while on safari in Kenya, Dr. Leo Lagasse, a gynecologic oncologist, and his wife Ann, herself a nurse, were deeply moved by the plight and suffering of local women who lacked access to proper health care. Upon their return to Malibu, Dr. Lagasse called upon his UCLA colleagues and organized a group of volunteer physicians to return to Africa where Medicine for Humanity was conceived.

For 20 years, the Lagasses led volunteer teams of highly trained, dedicated UCLA physicians and nurses all over the world from the Philippines, South Africa, Mongolia, Nepal, Mexico, Malawi, Uzbekistan, Poland, Croatia, Costa Rica, Panama, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Niger, Eritrea, Kenya, Cameroon, and Tanzania. Focusing on the care of women with gynecologic cancers, performing life sparing surgery, creating programs for the early detection of cervix cancer, and assisting communities with educational outreach have been the hallmarks of Medicine for Humanity for the last two decades.

“We know helping to improve women’s health creates healthier families, communities and countries."

— Dr. Leo Lagasse, MFH Founder

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In 2009, the Lagasses invited Dr. Christopher Tarnay, a Urogynecologist from UCLA, to accompany them to Mbarara, Uganda. Recognizing the skill and effort of his Ugandan counterparts coupled with the absolute abject poverty and need of these most deserving of patients, Dr. Tarnay was “hooked.”  The Lagasses’ recognized Dr. Tarnay’s passion, newfound commitment and a new chapter of MFH unfolded.  

Dr. Tarnay now serves as Medicine for Humanity's President and Medical Director.

Each year Dr. Tarnay helps organize and directs the annual two week medical and surgical camps at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, a teaching hospital in Southwest Uganda.

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Many families in Uganda cope with challenged access to healthcare, particularly basic obstetrical services.

As a result nearly 2,000 women each year in Uganda develop an obstetrical fistula, a devastating injury to the birth canal causing constant urinary or fecal soiling. It is currently estimated that 200,000 Ugandan women are still living and suffering from this condition. Many factors contributed to our decision to refocus Medicine for Humanity’s work to just one country.  Our current goal is to reduce the societal burden of fistula in this part of the world.  We offer a surgical cure one woman at a time.  We provide surgery, transportation, housing food, medical support, and postoperative care free of charge.  More importantly we are building capacity, through our medical training we can have a larger impact on a new generation of Ugandan doctors.

The healthcare situation for women and infants in Uganda is dire.

Medicine for Humanity’s recurring presence has served to transform Mbarara into a true center of excellence in the care of obstetrical fistula.

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Dr. Musa Kayondo

Deputy Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology and head of the Fistula plus Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery Division at Mbarara University of Science & Technology (MUST).

Medicine for Humanity works with champion physician, Dr. Kayondo, as well as key local personnel in collaboration with the Obstetrics and Gynecology residency program at MUST. This support provides for continued interval care to women with any delayed complications or health care needs.  This is a vital component to maintain surveillance of our surgical outcomes and ensure continued access to quality care to our patients.

The Lagasses created a “long arm of Malibu,” which has reached and extended itself across the globe. 

We continue to sustain this outreach with hopes of greater transformational impact on the healthcare profession and ultimately the health and wellness of women and mothers worldwide.

“You can’t talk to people [about fistula]. They laugh at you if you told them. They say this one is smelling. You have to hide it… Every moment, you have to cover yourself.”

— Miriam K., 28 years old.