Robert Kalb, MD, knows firsthand how education can shape the path of a person’s life in potent and positive ways. The first of his family of nine children to attend college, he moved on from there to medical school, residency training, and a fulfilling career in dermatology. His gratitude for that opportunity has fueled a lifelong commitment to the educational aspirations of others.
Since 2006 Dr. Kalb and his family have volunteered in Cambodia with Health Volunteers Overseas, an organization built on the philosophy that if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime. Dr. Kalb is now the program director for HVO’s site in Phnom Penh. His days there are busy, training medical students and supervising them in a dermatology clinic treating diseases such as scurvy, pellagra, and Hansen’s, diseases that have been all but wiped out in the U.S. Familiar diseases are often more challenging and severe due to lack of treatment, delayed care, or insufficient medication. Dr. Kalb embraces those challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow himself. “It’s very worthwhile to see what dermatology is like in another country, what the access to health care is like, and what people struggle with. It helped us appreciate what we have.”
The American Academy of Dermatology is a sponsor of HVO, through which volunteer physicians provide care, but also train health care providers in developing countries around the world, leaving behind critical knowledge and skills. In Cambodia, a country of 15 million with only one board certified dermatologist, the expertise imparted by dermatologists like Dr. Kalb, has a profound and lasting impact.
In 2013 Dr. Kalb’s dedication was honored by Health Volunteers Overseas who awarded him their Golden Apple Award for his extraordinary contributions to dermatologic education in Cambodia. He is the first dermatologist to receive this award. “I’ve long been a believer in the power of education to lift someone out of poverty,” said Dr. Kalb of his commitment to HVO and dermatologic care in Cambodia.
Health Volunteers Overseas
Train local health care providers, giving them the knowledge and skills to help their communities. Opportunities are available in Cambodia, Costa Rica, India and Peru.
To support international volunteerism at the AAD visit www.SupportAAD.org.