AV Board President Walter Johnson MD Named Head of WHO Emergency and Essential Surgery Program

August 24, 2016

Walter D. Johnson, MD, president of the Angel View Board of Directors, has been named head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (EESC) Program in Geneva, Switzerland. The EESE Program was established to take the lead in efforts to reduce global surgical burdens. Dr. Johnson served as interim head of the program from July 2015 until accepting the permanent position in August 2016. Previously, he was on various special assignments to WHO that led him to The Gambia, Republic of Congo, Mongolia, and Switzerland. His travel schedule will allow him to complete his 2015-16 term as Angel View board president. 

 “Our goal is to develop surgical care capacity in low and middle income countries around the world,” Dr. Johnson explained. “That’s particularly critical since a recent WHO study found that the volume of surgery has increased globally over the last decade but wide disparities in access persist between rich and poor countries.” According to WHO, some 5 billion people still have no access to safe, timely and affordable surgical care.

Similar disparities in health services exist in the Coachella Valley among various segments of the population, Dr. Johnson notes. Angel View’s Outreach Program was created to address gaps in services experienced by local families raising children with disabilities. Many of those families are very low income and experience the same problems with access to care that WHO has identified on a global basis. “The Coachella Valley is in many ways a microcosm of the issues we’re addressing through the World Health Organization,” Dr. Johnson said.

Many people are unaware that access to surgical care is a population-based, affordability and globally relevant issue. “We’re devoted to leveling the playing field so people in areas with a lack of traditional access will have similar opportunities as people in more developed areas,” Dr. Johnson added. 

Locally, families raising children with disabilities typically must travel to Loma Linda for specialty pediatric care. For East Valley families, that’s a 170-mile roundtrip many make frequently. To help alleviate the financial burden and ensure children with disabilities are seen regularly by their physicians, Angel View offers mileage reimbursement for miles traveled accessing specialty pediatric care and mini-grants for medical equipment, supplies and services not covered by Medi-Cal.

Prior to joining the World Health Organization, Dr. Johnson was an adjunct professor at the Claremont Graduate University School of Community and Global Health. He was also a Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at the Loma Linda University Medical Center and served as Vice-Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery there for over a decade.

Since 1954, Angel View has provided a range of services for children and adults with disabilities. For more information or to volunteer at Angel View's stores, visit: www.AngelView.org, email info@angelview.org or call (760) 329-6471. 

Timmy’s Story

Timmy spent his childhood baffling the medical community. His digestive issues and seizure activity were so profound, doctors didn’t understand how he could still be alive. His mom devoted herself to medical research and finding a place that could care for her son. Between hospitalizations, he lived in various group homes in New York. At the last one, he had so many injuries his mom sought another solution. They headed west.

Since moving into an Angel View home, Timmy is calmer, more expressive, and has far fewer seizures. He loves the staff, his housemates, our therapy dogs and his word board. He’s so adored by staff, his mother says happily, “Now he has more than one mommy.”